What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
The course of AD is not the same in every person with the disease, but symptoms seem to develop over the same general stages.
Very early signs and symptoms
Memory problems are one of the first signs of AD. Some people with mild AD have a condition called amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). People with MCI have more memory problems than normal for people their age, but their symptoms are not as severe as those of people with AD. More people with MCI go on to develop AD than people without MCI.
As AD progresses, memory loss continues and changes in other cognitive abilities appear. Symptoms in this stage can include:
- getting lost
- trouble handling money and paying bills
- repeating questions
- taking longer than before to complete normal daily tasks
- poor judgment
- losing things or misplacing them in odd places
- mood and personality changes
In most people with AD, symptoms first appear after age 60. AD is often diagnosed at this stage.
In moderate AD, damage occurs in areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. Symptoms may include:
- increased memory loss and confusion
- problems recognizing family and friends
- inability to learn new things
- difficulty carrying out tasks that involve multiple steps (such as getting dressed)
- problems coping with new situations
- delusions and paranoia
- impulsive behavior
People with severe AD cannot communicate and are completely dependent on others for their care. Near the end, the person with AD may be in bed most or all of the time. Their symptoms often include:
- inability to recognize oneself or family
- inability to communicate
- weight loss
- skin infections
- difficulty swallowing
- groaning, moaning, or grunting
- increased sleeping
- lack of control of bowel and bladder
National Institute on Aging
Page last updated Feb 25, 2011