Current Size: 100%
Memory loss is the earliest sign and the most common symptom of Alzheimer's disease. This doesn't mean occasionally forgetting something, as everyone does from time to time. Rather, people with AD have difficulty remembering things that took place minutes, hours, and days ago. This may mean that they forget that they already paid a bill and pay it again, or they may forget they were cooking something and leave the stove turned on. As people with AD become aware of their forgetfulness, they may become embarrassed or confused.
There are other early warning signs of Alzheimer's disease, although not everyone may have these same symptoms.
Signs, Symptoms, and Problems You Might Notice In Early Dementia
Inability to learn new things or cope with unexpected situations
Learning new names, faces, and environment becomes difficult. Public and unexpected situations may result in confusion, anxiety, and restlessness.
Expressing symptoms of depression, paranoia, fear, and/or anxiety.
Poor judgment/decision making
Giving money or personal items away to strangers, family members or friends without wanting to do so.
Trouble finding the right words, saying the same thing over and over, or gaps in speech.
Trouble with familiar tasks
Taking longer on routine tasks, such as getting dressed, combing hair, counting out money, etc.
Disorientation to time and place
Confusion about the location of familiar places, like finding their house or the time of day.
Later Symptoms of Alzheimer's DiseaseAs AD progresses, your loved one may become more upset, agitated, and restless when he/she begins experiencing problems with communication (both speaking and understanding what is said), orientation (both to place and time), and recent and long-term memory. In the later stages of AD, your loved one will begin to have noticeable difficulty in public settings and completing activities of daily living.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Individuals with dementia may also need help with tasks that are called "Activities of Daily Living," or ADLs. ADLs are the basic activities that we must perform every day in order to take care of ourselves. Typically, ADLs refers to the following tasks:
- Bathing (i.e., able to bathe without assistance in cleaning or getting into tub or shower)
- Toilet Use (i.e., able to use the toilet and clean oneself afterward)
- Control or continence of urine and bowels (i.e., able to wait for the right time and the right place)
- Dressing and grooming (i.e., able to button a shirt, choosing appropriate clothing)
- Moving about (i.e., able to move in and out of a chair or bed, walking)
- Eating (i.e., able to eat without having to be fed by another)
Persons with dementia may be able to perform these tasks independently, with some difficulty, or with additional assistance. Their performance of these tasks is likely to change over time as well. It is a good idea to take notes on the abilities of your loved one and how he or she changes. The information can be shared with health professionals to help them better understand the progress of the disease in your loved one.Also, he/she may have the following problems:
- loss of interest in hobbies, clubs, or activities he/she previously enjoyed
- forgetting the names of family members
- loss of awareness of surroundings
- loss of bladder or bowel control (incontinence)
Some of the behavioral problems that may occur later in the disease include wandering, suspicion, delusions, and compulsive or repetitive action, such as repetitively asking the same questions. In the final stages, the ability to eat, respond to the environment, speak and recognize speech, control movements, and perform basic life functions, such as breathing and swallowing, are completely impaired. For advice on helping your loved one with daily activities, visit the Caregiver Tips portion of this site.
- Facts About Dementia: Overview
- Finding Dementia Care
- Getting Financial Help for Dementia Care
- Alzheimer's Disease: Introduction
- Vascular Dementia: Introduction
- Lewy Body Dementia: Introduction
- Frontotemporal Dementia: Introduction
- Other Types of Dementia
- Diagnosing Dementia
- Treating Dementia