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What are the Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

By Summer Banks
Updated May 17, 2024
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Alzheimer's disease is a medical condition most often associated with the aging population. This condition affects memory and cognition with the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease progressing through the three stages of the disease. The first stage usually presents with mild symptoms, the second with moderate symptoms, and the third with more severe symptoms.

During the first stage, one of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease most often reported is a loss of memory that is more drastic than associated with the normal aging process. The patient may get lost walking home from the store or fail to remember the face or name of a family member. A lack of energy and spontaneity are also associated with the milder phase of Alzheimer's disease symptoms. Other symptoms include an inability to perform normal daily functions without help, a lack of ability to handle personal finances, and a change in judgment. Stage one can last from two years to four years or more, depending on the progression of the disease.

The second stage is often the longest stage for the Alzheimer's patient and can last up to 10 years. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease presented during the first stage remain, but tend to progress to more severe levels. Instead of misplacing something in the home, the Alzheimer's patient may forget they have it in the first place. This can include pets, which can lead to malnourishment and even death. In almost a regression of sorts, the patient may lose the ability to comprehend written words, with reading and writing becoming more difficult over time. The patient will often eventually become a danger to themselves, as wandering is very common.

The final stage of Alzheimer's disease is usually the most difficult for the family of the Alzheimer's patient. The patient losing his or her cognitive hold on life often slips into a state where no one is familiar. While this is not physically painful for the patient, the family members can have difficulty accepting the loss of the loved one mentally.

Alzheimer's Disease is not usually a fatal condition, but the lack of strength and ability to care for themselves often lends to an increased number of infections and illnesses in patients. Patients will remain in the final stage of the disease until death, as there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease discussed in stages one and two remain during the final stage and can progressively worsen.

Not every patient will present with the same symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. There is also a different time line for progression from patient to patient. During the progression of the disease, there may be times when memory returns and cognition seems to be improved, but these small bits of light are most often temporary.

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Discussion Comments
By Drentel — On Mar 27, 2014

Another symptom of Alzheimer's is anger. My mother would experience brief periods of intense anger when she was in the early to middle stage of the disease. The outbursts might last 15 seconds or a couple minutes. Then she would settle down and go on like nothing out of the ordinary happened.

By Sporkasia — On Mar 26, 2014

My friend who had ALzheimer's disease had multiple symptoms, but the most notable was the wandering. She was in constant motion and if you looked away for a few moments she could slip away. The care facility where she eventually moved kept some doors to the outside locked and the doors that were not locked had alarms on them to help the staff keep track of the residents.

By Animandel — On Mar 25, 2014

As mentioned in the last paragraph of this article, Alzheimer's patients do sometimes appear to "snap out of it" and return to their normal selves, the way they were before the disease began to affect them. The first time I witnessed a patient regaining some of her cognitive function, I stood there in the assisted living facility dinning room where she was eating lunch and I was stunned. The whole episode was like something out of a movie.

With this particular patient, the improved condition lasted only a couple hours, but fortunately a couple of her family members were with her at the time and got to see her as her old self again. On the other hand, I think this episode gave the family some false hope. The patient regressed and never improved.

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