Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms
Alzheimer's disease is most often described as occurring in three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. The symptoms tend to be cumulative and wo...
Top of page
Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) often occurs in three stages: mild, moderate,
and severe. The symptoms tend to be cumulative and worsen over
In addition to memory loss, early clinical symptoms will likely
- confusion about the location of familiar places
- taking longer to accomplish normal daily tasks
- trouble handling money and paying bills
- poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- mood and personality changes and increased anxiety
As the disease spreads to more regions of the brain,
additional clinical symptoms may include:
- increasing memory loss and confusion
- shortened attention span
- problems recognizing friends and family members
- difficulty with language and problems with reading, writing, or
working with numbers
- difficulty organizing thoughts and thinking logically
- inability to learn new tasks or to cope with new or unexpected
- inappropriate outbursts of anger
- perceptual-motor problems, such as trouble getting out of a chair
or setting the table
- repetitive statements or movement, and occasional muscle twitches
- hallucinations, delusions, suspiciousness or paranoia, and
- loss of impulse control, such as undressing at inappropriate times
or places or using vulgar language
- exacerbation of behavioral symptoms, such as restlessness,
agitation, anxiety, tearfulness, and wandering — especially in the late
afternoon or evening — called, “sundowning”
At this point, plaques and tangles, the hallmarks of
AD, show in the brain when viewed by the imaging technology MRI. This is the
final stage of AD. These symptoms include:
- inability to recognize family and loved ones
- sense of self seems to vanish
- unable to communicate in any way
- lack of bladder and bowel control
- weight loss
- skin infections
- groaning, moaning, or grunting
- increased sleeping
- total dependence on others for their care
- difficulty swallowing
Conditions With Similar Symptoms
There are other causes of dementia that have similar
symptoms to AD. The following list of neurodegenerative diseases contains the
most common ones.
- Parkinson’s disease with dementia leads to shaking and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination.
- Vascular dementia occurs from impaired blood
flow to the brain and leads to problems with reasoning, planning,
judgment, and memory.
- Frontotemporal lobar degeneration affects the frontal and
temporal lobes of the brain, which are associated with personality,
behavior and language.
- Frontotemporal dementia affects the temporal and
frontal lobes that influence decision-making, behavioral control, emotion,
- Pick’s disease is a rare and permanent form of dementia similar to AD except
it often affects only certain brain areas.
- Supranuclear palsy is a rare brain disorder
that causes serious and progressive problems with control of gait and
balance, complex eye movement, and thinking problems.
- Corticobasal degeneration occurs when areas of your
brain shrink and nerve cells die over time. The result is growing
difficulty moving on one or both sides of your body.
Other Possible Causes of Dementia
Other possible causes of dementia
- medication side effects
- vitamin B12 deficiency
- chronic alcoholism
- certain tumors or infections of the brain
- blood clots in or on the brain
- metabolic imbalances, including thyroid, kidney, and liver
Talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing any
of these symptoms. Because symptoms worsen over time, it’s important to be
aware of the possibility of Alzheimer’s. Your doctor will help you assess if
symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe.
Wendy Leonard, MPH
Medically Reviewed by:
Aug 8, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.