Common Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and get help for yourself or a loved one. Seven Hills Hospital helps individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s disease build a strong foundation for lasting recovery. Located near Las Vegas, Seven Hills is the leading provider of psychiatric and addiction treatment.

Understanding Alzheimers's

Learn About Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a group of disorders that cause people to begin to slowly develop problems with their memory, behaviors, and thought patterns. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease begin to experience difficulty in planning, communicating, and reasoning. The symptoms and effects of Alzheimer’s can become so intense that they lead those with the illness to suffer from significant impairment in their ability to function appropriately on a daily basis. It is known to be a degenerative disorder that continues to negatively affect the brain and gradually get worse over time.

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, its symptoms can be managed through medication and various forms of additional therapeutic interventions. The earlier that Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, the earlier that treatments can be implemented, providing people with the opportunity to have a higher quality of life.

Statistics

Alzheimer’s Statistics

The Alzheimer’s Association has provided statistics that show that Alzheimer’s disease accounts for between 50% and 80% of all dementia cases. Studies have shown that the likelihood that a person will develop Alzheimer’s doubles on an average of every five years between the ages of 65 and 85. In other words, it has been estimated that only 1%-2% of people who are 70 years old have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but approximately 40% of people who are 85 years old are suffering from the illness.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors of Alzheimer’s

The majority of scientists and researchers in the field believe that there are a combination of genetic factors, lifestyle factors, and environmental factors that affect the brain over time and lead to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The following are some examples of these varying factors:

Genetic: It is believed that genetics play a significant role in determining whether or not a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have noted that there are certain gene mutations that are associated with the onset of the illness and that those mutations are hereditary. It has been estimated that individuals who have a biological parent who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease have a 50% chance of developing the illness as well.

Physical: When people develop Alzheimer’s disease, the nerve cells in their brains have experienced some form of damage. This nerve cell damage can occur in different areas of the brain, which is why people will react differently to the onset of the illness. When doctors suspect that a person might have Alzheimer’s, they will perform various cognitive tests in order to assess which aspect of that person’s brain has been disturbed by the nerve damage.

Environmental: The effects that a person’s environment has on whether or not he or she will develop Alzheimer’s disease continues to be the source of many different scientific studies. There has been evidence provided that suggests that there are certain lifestyle factors that have the potential to put individuals at risk of developing the illness, including a lack of exercise, smoking, and having minimal social interaction.

Risk Factors:

  • Increased age (recognized as being the highest of all risk factors)
  • Family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Head trauma
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome (research has shown that people who have Down syndrome will develop changes in the brain that have the potential of leading to the onset Alzheimer’s by the time they reach the age of 40)

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

The signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will vary among individuals depending on how long a person has been suffering from the illness, as well as how severe the stage of the illness is. Some examples of various signs and symptoms that may be indicative of the presence of Alzheimer’s disease can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Getting lost in places that are familiar to the person
  • Misplacing commonly used items
  • Loss of social skills
  • Making irrational and unfounded accusations against loved ones
  • Requiring assistance to perform tasks
  • Having difficulty following instructions
  • Decreased ability to communicate effectively

Physical symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • Excessive dizziness / poor balance
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • Impaired motor functioning

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Significant memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased ability to focus
  • Impaired reasoning capabilities
  • Impaired judgment
  • Loss of object recognition
  • Loss of facial recognition
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Excessive agitation
  • Mood changes
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of initiative

Lasting Effects

Effects of Alzheimer’s

The effects that Alzheimer’s disease can have on the individual suffering from the illness can be devastating. The effects can also be devastating for that person’s family and loved ones as they try to help him or her deal with the struggles that he or she is forced to face on a daily basis. Because it is a progressive disease, the symptoms and effects of Alzheimer’s will continually worsen as time passes. Some examples of the long-term effects of Alzheimer’s disease can include:

  • Permanent memory loss
  • Disorientation of person, place, time, and situation
  • Language and communication struggles
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Dramatic personality changes
  • Being unable to recognize loved ones
  • Lacking the ability to perform tasks without assistance

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders

There are a number of different mental illnesses that can occur alongside Alzheimer’s disease. The most common of these disorders can include, but are not limited to:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Substance abuse disorders

When my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, we felt the entire world closing in on us. After getting therapeutic intervention from the compassionate staff at Seven Hills, my wife and I are now more prepared to deal with her Alzheimer's. We are eternally grateful to the patient and caring staff at Seven Hills!

– George G.