Forgetting is the most common early symptom of Alzheimer's disease. Some people have trouble speaking in the early stages.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's
- Forgetting names and recent events: in later stages, may forget how to do common tasks like brushing teeth
- Showing a lack of good judgment
- Acting confused or disoriented
- Changes in behavior
- Acting aggressive
- Feeling like others are out to get them
- Wandering: this can be unsafe if the person is not able to speak clearly or doesn't know where he or she is
- Loss of bladder control
- Sleeping during the day and being awake at night
- Problems speaking, swallowing and walking
- Depression: Up to 40% of people with Alzheimer's have depression. Depression can be treated, and quality of life greatly improved.
Early diagnosis will help you and your loved ones plan for the future. A doctor who specializes in Alzheimer's will use the following tools to determine if you or your loved one has Alzheimer's:
- Take a medical history.
- Ask about the ability to carry out daily tasks
- Test memory, problem solving, attention, counting and language
- Test blood, urine, or spinal fluid
- Brain scans
These tests will help the doctor find out if the person has a problem other than Alzheimer's. Several illnesses have symptoms that are similar.
Alzheimer's Association. 2008 Alzheimer's disease facts and figures. Accessed August 12, 2008. Available at www.alz.org/national/documents/report_alzfactsfigures2008.pdf.
Alzheimer's Association. Depression and Alzheimer's. Accessed August 13, 2008. Available at www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_depression.asp.
National Institute on Aging. Alzheimer's disease fact sheet. Accessed August 11, 2008. Available at www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/adfact.htm.