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Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms and Signs
(Early, Middle, and Late Stages)

Recognizing Alzheimer's Disease

Patient Comments
  • Alzheimer's disease (Alzheimer disease) is one of many causes of dementia, an impairment in memory and thinking that is severe enough to affect an individual's ability to function in daily life.
  • Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are subtle at first and may be identical to those associated with other causes of dementia.
  • While this article is a guide to the symptoms associated with various stages of Alzheimer's disease, the diagnosis of the condition must be made by a doctor who can determine the exact cause of the symptoms and rule out other causes of dementia.
  • Alzheimer's disease begins with a mild, slowly worsening memory loss.
  • These initial symptoms typically develop over a period of years and may be subtle.
  • The disease progresses at different rates in different people. Over time, people with the disease lose their ability to think and reason clearly, make judgments, solve problems, communicate, concentrate, remember useful information, and take care of themselves.
  • As the disease progresses, changes in personality and behavior can develop. Individuals may experience anxiety, agitation, paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.

Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

The following signs are considered 'warning signs' that should prompt an evaluation by a healthcare professional.

  • Memory loss
  • Language problems
  • Difficulty in performing familiar tasks
  • Poor judgment
  • Misplacing items
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Personality changes
  • Increased apathy or passiveness

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease: Symptoms

Symptoms typical of the early, intermediate, and late stages of Alzheimer's disease are presented below. It is important to remember that each case is unique, and a given individual may experience some but not all of the symptoms at a given time.

Symptoms of Early Stage of Alzheimer's Disease

  • Difficulty in recognizing familiar people or things.
  • Difficulty recalling names of new acquaintances.
  • Trouble remembering recent events or activities.
  • Inability to solve simple arithmetic problems.
  • Forgetting where they have recently placed objects.
  • Finding the right word for a familiar thing and performing familiar tasks can be difficult.
  • Individuals may seem withdrawn in social situations.
  • Trouble performing complex tasks such as planning an event or paying bills.
  • Individuals can still understand and participate in conversation.
  • They can find their way through familiar surroundings without help.
  • They can still read and write and retain information long enough to rationalize.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/15/2016
Medical Author:

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms:

Alzheimer's Symptoms - Patients Experience

Tell us how you recognized the first stages of Alzheimer's in yourself or a loved one.

Alzheimer's Symptoms and Signs, the Early, Middle, and Late Stages

A Caregivers' Challenge: Dealing with "Sundowning" in Alzheimer's Disease

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

"Sundowning" or "Sundown Syndrome" is a phenomenon well known to many of the estimated 2.4 to 3.1 million caregivers to persons with Alzheimer's diseasein the U.S. Sundowning refers to the changes in behavior and mood that often occur in the late afternoon or evening in people with Alzheimer's disease and similar conditions that alter brain function. These changes in mood and behavior can be particularly challenging for caregivers and loved ones.

Symptoms associated with sundowning include:

  • aggression,
  • agitation,
  • delusions,
  • hallucinations,
  • paranoia,
  • increased disorientation, and
  • wandering.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Alzheimer Disease »

Alzheimer disease (Alzheimer’s disease, AD), the most common cause of dementia1, isan acquired cognitive and behavioral impairment of sufficient severity that markedly interferes with social and occupational functioning.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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