When memories start fading… Signs of Alzheimer’s disease

Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.
The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Alzheimer’s disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild (sometimes called early-stage), moderate, and severe (sometimes called late-stage).

Signs of mild Alzheimer’s disease

In mild Alzheimer’s disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realisation that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family.

Problems can include:

Memory loss

Poor judgment leading to bad decisions.

Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative

Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks

Repeating questions

Trouble handling moneay and paying bills

Wandering and getting lost

Losing dthings or misplacing them in odd places

Mood and personality changes

Increased anxiety and or aggression

Signs of moderate Alzheimer’s disease

In this stage, more intensive supervision and care become necessary, which can be difficult for many spouses and families.

Symptoms may include:

Increased memory loss and confusion

Inability to learn new things
Difficulty with language and

problems with reading, writing, and working with numbers

Difficulty organizing thoughts and thinking logically

Shortened attention span
Problems coping with new situations

Difficulty carrying out multistep tasks, such as getting dressed

Problems recognizing family and friends

Hallucinations, delusions and paranoia

Impulsive behavior such as undressing at inappropriate times or places or using vulgar language
Inappropriate outbursts of anger
Restlessness, agitation, anxiety, tearfulness, wandering—especially in the late afternoon or evening

Repetitive statements or movement, occasional muscle twitches

Signs of severe Alzheimer’s disease

People with severe Alzheimer’s cannot communicate and are completely dependent on others for their care. Near the end, the person may be in bed most or all of the time as the body shuts down. Their

symptoms often include:

Inability to communicate
Weight loss
Skin infections
Difficulty swallowing
Groaning, moaning, or grunting
Increased sleeping
Loss of bowel and bladder control

A common cause of death for people with Alzheimer’s disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment

Some people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimer’s disease. People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:
Losing things often
Forgetting to go to events or appointments

Having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age. Information courtesy National Institute of Health (US) / MedlinePlus