Symptoms and Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disorder that interferes with a person's ability to carry out everyday activities. The brain of a person with Alzheimer's disease has abnormal areas containing clumps (senile plaques) and bundles (neurofibrillary tangles) of abnormal proteins that destroy connections between brain cells, which affects the parts of the brain that control cognitive functions such as thought, memory, and language.

Initial symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include mild, slowly worsening memory loss and memory problems such as: difficulty recognizing familiar people or things, trouble remembering recent events or activities, inability to solve simple math problems, problems finding the right word, and difficulty performing familiar tasks. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more serious and may include an inability to carry out everyday activities, inability to think clearly or solve problems, difficulties understanding or learning new information, problems with communication, increasing disorientation and confusion, and greater risk of falls and accidents due to poor judgment and confusion. In the later stages of Alzheimer's, symptoms can be debilitating and include complete loss of short- and long-term memory, dependence on others for activities of daily living, severe disorientation, behavior or personality changes, loss of mobility, and impairment of other movements such as swallowing.

Must Read Articles:


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.