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Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease


Alzheimer’s disease is a very scary thought but it is different to the memory loss that we all experience from time to time.  How many of us have forgotten an obvious word, where we placed our keys, or why we’ve come into a room?  This is completely normal.  Alzheimer’s disease is a scary and debilitating disorder, both for the sufferer and their loved ones.  Read on to learn more about the symptoms and stages of the disease.

Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Symptoms that may arise in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Memory loss – forgetting recently learned information
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks – difficulty in planning or completing everyday tasks
  • Problems with language – forgetting simple words or substituting unusual words
  • Disorientation to time and place – getting lost in their own neighbourhood for example
  • Poor or decreased judgment – such as dressing inappropriately or giving large sums of money away
  • Problems with abstract thinking – difficulty performing complex mental tasks
  • Misplacing things – putting things in unusual places such as an iron in the freezer
  • Changes in mood or behaviour – such as rapid mood swings for no apparent reason
  • Changes in personality – such as becoming confused, suspicious, or dependent on a family member
  • Loss of initiative – such as becoming passive and sitting in front of the TV for hours, not wanting to do usual activities, or sleeping more than is normal

Older adults that notice a persistent mild memory loss may have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  MCI is now believed to be a significant sign of early-stage Alzheimer’s in older people.  Studies suggest that people that experience such mild memory abnormalities can later develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

There are three distinct stages to Alzheimer’s disease.  In the first stage, people will tend to have less energy and spontaneity; even it is not noticed by others.  They will have minor memory loss and mood swings, and are slow to learn and react.  After a period of time, they will prefer to stick with familiar things, rather than anything new.  The memory loss may affect their job performance and they get confused, are easily lost, and have poor judgment.

In the second stage of Alzheimer’s, the sufferer is still capable of performing tasks themselves, but they may need help with more complicated tasks.  Speech and understanding becomes slower, and patients often lose their train of thought in mid-sentence.  Sufferers may also get lost when traveling or forget to pay bills.  When they become aware of this loss of control, depression, irritability and restlessness may occur.  People with Alzheimer’s are able to recall events in the past but have trouble remember events that occurred recently.  Because Alzheimer’s is affecting the person’s ability to understand where they are, the day, and the time, caregivers must give clear instructions and repeat them frequently.  Sufferers may invent words and be unable to recognise familiar faces.

In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, sufferers lose the ability to chew and swallow.  Memory is now very poor and they cannot recognise anyone.  Bowel and bladder control is lost and the sufferer will need continual care.  The sufferer becomes vulnerable to pneumonia, infection, and other illnesses and respiratory problems become worse, especially when the patient becomes bedridden.  This terminal stage of the disease leads to death.


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