progresses slowly, and changes take place gradually over time. People can live with Alzheimers disease for 3-25 years, although the average duration of the disease is about 8-10 years. In general, changes can be characterized in 3 phases.
Subtle changes occur, but the problem is sometimes hard to pinpoint. More often, family members recognize these changes rather than the patients themselves. Common changes may include: Forgetfulness and attempts to hide frequent forgettingMisplacing thingsGetting lost while drivingLoss of interest in hobbiesDifficulty concentratingInability to recall wordsDecrease in sentence complexityProblems with mathematical calculationsGetting lost in familiar surroundingsDifficulty with tasks that require fine motor ability, such as putting a key in the keyhole or buttoning a shirtDifficulty in dealing with daily life tasks, such as managing finances, tending to household tasks, maintaining personal hygieneRepeating questions and storiesNonsensical wordy speechNaming difficultiesDepressed mood
Impairments in memory and mental functioning become more obvious. Long-term memory may still be intact, but short-term memory fails. Other changes include: Difficulty sleepingBecoming less sociable and less aware of the feelings of othersNeeding help in making decisionsNeeding assistance with bathing, grooming, dressingForgetting one’s own past history of personal eventsPersonality changes, such as sudden mood shifts, anger, worry, or fearfulness
Abilities decline dramatically. Changes include: Inability to use languageBecoming easily disorientedIncontinenceWalking with a shuffleFrequent fallsShowing minimal emotional responseImmobility and painWeight loss and inability to swallowAgitation, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and mood changesDifficulty sleeping
10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer’s Association website. Available at:
Accessed September 6, 2013.
About Alzheimer's disease: Symptoms.
National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health website. Available at:
https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/symptoms. Accessed September 6, 2013.
Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 19, 2013. Accessed September 6, 2013.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Rimas Lukas, MD
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