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Symptoms of Alzheimer Disease

Alzheimer disease symptoms are mild when they start, but get worse over time.

Early Phase

Common problems in the early phase are:
  • Forgetfulness with attempts to hide forgetting
  • Losing items or putting them in the wrong place
  • Getting lost while driving or walking in familiar places
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Problems with focus
  • Problems recalling words
  • A change from complex to simple sentences
  • Problems doing math
  • Problems doing fine motor tasks, such as putting a key in the keyhole or buttoning a shirt
  • Problems doing daily tasks, such as finances, home tasks, and hygiene
  • Repeating questions and stories
  • Wordy speech that does not make sense
  • Problems naming things
  • Signs of depression

Middle Phase

Long-term memory may be good, but short-term memory begins to fail in the this phase. Other changes may be:
  • Problems sleeping
  • Becoming less social and less aware of the feelings of others
  • Needing help to make decisions
  • Needing help bathing, grooming, dressing
  • Forgetting one’s own past history of personal events
  • Personality changes, such as sudden mood shifts, anger, worry, or fearfulness

Advanced Phase

Abilities decline quickly in the this phase. Changes may be:
  • Problems using language
  • Getting easily disoriented
  • Problems with urine control
  • Walking with a shuffle
  • Falling often
  • Showing little emotion
  • Pain and problems moving
  • Weight loss and problems swallowing
  • Mental health problems, such as mood changes and seeing things that are not there

References

Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/alzheimer-dementia. Updated August 9, 2019. Accessed October 8, 2019.
Alzheimer's disease medications fact sheet. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-medications-fact-sheet. Updated April 2, 2018. Accessed October 8, 2019.
Atri A. The Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Spectrum: Diagnosis and Management. Med Clin North Am. 2019 Mar;103(2):263-293.
Mendez MF. What is the relationship of traumatic brain injury to dementia? J Alzheimer’s Dis. 2017;57(3):667-81.
What is Alzheimer's? Alzheimer’s Association website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers%5Fdisease%5Fwhat%5Fis%5Falzheimers.asp. Accessed October 8, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 10/10/2019
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