Symptoms and Signs of Alzheimer's Disease FAQs

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 1/27/2022

Doctor's Notes on Alzheimer's Disease FAQs

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and fatal brain disorder that gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason, communicate, make judgments, and ability to do the basic tasks of everyday living. Signs and symptoms are often listed in stages; however, the disease symptoms may overlap with many individuals. The number of stages depends on which researcher is reporting them; the most basic stages are three (early, middle, and late).

  • Early: problems with memory loss
  • Middle or intermediate: begin to lose the ability to think and reason clearly, judge situations, communicate with others, understanding new information and some difficulties taking care of themselves
  • Late: personality and/or behavior changes, anxiety, agitation, paranoia, severe memory loss, delusions, loss of mobility, hallucinations, inability to care for themselves

What causes Alzheimer's disease is not known. Two forms of the disease are known: familial and sporadic. The familial form is very rare; the second reason, sporadic, may be present at the raw from genetic studies and is the common form of Alzheimer's disease.

What Are the Treatments for Alzheimer's Disease?

The treatment of Alzheimer's disease is primarily supportive to help the patient to continue a productive and enjoyable lifestyle while minimizing the Alzheimer's disease symptoms. However, the disease is progressive, and the patient's need for care increases over time. The following may help a person cope with Alzheimer's disease:

  • Develop a structured schedule (put it in writing).
  • Plan for regular exercise.
  • The person should keep and/or make sure social contacts occur frequently as long as possible.
  • Slowly adapt to environmental changes.
  • Continue to function independently doing daily activities for as long as possible.
  • As independent function abilities decline and daily care needs increase, plan for assisted care and/or nursing home care as needed.

A new drug, aducanumab, was approved by the FDA in 2021 for use in Alzheimer's disease. However, this FDA approval is controversial due to questionable clinical improvements in patients. If another study does not show patient improvement, the FDA may withdraw approval. Also, the drug currently costs about $58,000 per year. Your doctor may prescribe other medications to treat other related problems like depression, anxiety, and/or stress.

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