Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that can cause confusion, memory loss, and cognitive decline. It is the most common type of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and irreversible disease, which means that symptoms will gradually progress from mild to worse, until the patient is unable to communicate or function independently. The progress of this situation is divided into four stages: preclinical stage, early stage, intermediate stage and late stage.

Everyone experiences symptoms and goes through the stages in their own way. However, understanding what may be involved at each stage can help family members and healthcare providers prepare and plan care for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Signs and symptoms

These are the signs and symptoms of each stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the initial symptoms may be mistaken for normal signs of aging, they can become more severe over time.

Preclinical stage

This is the stage before any symptoms appear. Although this person may not show any external signs of disease, their brain may have begun to shrink and decline. These changes in the brain sometimes start 10 years before any symptoms become obvious.

Early

Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are mild. This person may seem healthy, but often forgets or struggles with certain things. In the early stages, they may realize that they are forgetful or struggling. Relatives like friends and family may also notice them. Feeling something is wrong may gradually appear.

These are some of the symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease:

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  • Forgetfulness, such as being unable to remember names, frequently used items, recent events or appointments
  • Chaos of time and place
  • Have difficulty learning or remembering new things
  • Repetitive speech or question
  • Impaired judgment and problematic decisions
  • Offensive remarks or methods
  • Spontaneous or reduced initiative
  • Delayed response
  • Speaking slowly
  • Difficulty in multi-step tasks such as cooking
  • Difficulty managing money or finances
  • Problem with organization or plan
  • Personality or mood changes

Even if the symptoms worsen, the patient may retain some skills, such as singing, dancing, listening to music, reading, telling stories, remembering, or doing arts and crafts. These functions are controlled by certain parts of the brain, which may not be affected in the early stages.

Mid-term

Mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease has moderate symptoms. This stage sometimes lasts for many years. The person may gradually become unable to work and need help from family members or caregivers.

Symptoms of mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Memory loss, such as being unable to remember one’s name
  • Difficult to recognize family and friends, even if they seem familiar
  • Problems with daily work, such as wearing clothes
  • Language and speech difficulties
  • Difficulties with reading, writing, and numbers
  • Outbursts of anger or vulgar language
  • Illogical thoughts
  • Reduce concentration
  • Unable to cope with new situations
  • Even in familiar places, there is a tendency to wander or get lost
  • Unusual behavior, such as taking off your clothes in public or leaving objects in an unfamiliar place
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Compulsive or repetitive behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Social withdrawal
  • Tearful
  • anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusion
  • Paranoia and mistrust of family members and caregivers
  • Muscle twitches
  • Repetitive action
  • Sleep interruption
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Some symptoms, such as irritability, agitation, anxiety, tearfulness, or a tendency to lose focus, can worsen during the second half of the day, that is, between late afternoon and evening. This is called sunset.

Late stage

Severe symptoms are characteristic of advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Usually, this person cannot respond or communicate. Therefore, they may need full-time care and supervision. In the end, they may stay in bed.

Symptoms of advanced Alzheimer’s disease may include:

  • Difficulty eating and swallowing
  • Severe weight loss
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Unable to communicate
  • Lack of situational awareness
  • Difficulty sitting, standing or walking, which may cause frequent falls
  • Inability to perform personal hygiene tasks
  • Sleep often
  • Seizures
  • Skin infections
  • Guru Guru

The middle and late stages of Alzheimer’s disease are particularly painful for patients, family members, and caregivers. Therefore, it is important to perform self-care, establish a support system you can rely on, and seek treatment when needed.

Complications and complications

These are some of the complications and comorbidities associated with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): In the early stages, a person may be diagnosed with MCI by misplacing things, forgetting appointments, or being unable to remember words. It may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease. However, everyone with MCI does not necessarily get Alzheimer’s disease. Many people can take care of themselves and live an independent life at MCI.
  • Pneumonia: People with Alzheimer’s disease may develop aspiration pneumonia if food or fluids enter the lungs due to difficulty swallowing. Pneumonia is a common cause of death in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Other complications: Stroke, infection, delirium and certain medications can worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
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Frequently asked questions

These are some common questions about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

When do symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease usually start?

People with late-onset Alzheimer’s may start to show symptoms in their 60s; however, people with early-onset Alzheimer’s may start to show symptoms as early as their 30s.

How do you distinguish between normal forgetfulness and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

It is natural to forget things occasionally, especially with age. For example, you may forget where your car is parked or some details of the event. You might even forget someone’s name and then remember it later.

However, with Alzheimer’s disease, you may forget what your car looks like, or completely forget the occurrence of an event. You may not remember ever knowing someone.

If you are often forgetful, you should notify your healthcare provider. They can check your symptoms and perform tests to determine if it is due to a normal aging process or a health condition such as Alzheimer’s. Other health conditions can also cause memory loss.

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