Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a disorder of the brain that slowly reduces thinking and memory skills [1]. Eventually, patients can lose the ability to perform simple, daily tasks too. Most people in their 60s can start to see Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms. It is rare for the disorder to occur before that age. It is the most common type of dementia in the elderly.

The disease is known to progress over time, starting with mild memory issues and then leading to an inability to respond to things around them or carry a conversation [2].

It can impact the quality of life of patients since they are unable to do basic tasks and functions that they were familiar with beforehand. It can also take a toll on the caregivers since they have to learn how to manage and cope with symptoms. All functions and tasks, from bathing and eating to going to doctor appointments and taking medication, have to be carried out by the caregivers in many cases.

Hence, it is important to under the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease so that you can figure it out early on and work to slow down the progression of the disease considering there is no clear cure for it.

Types of Alzheimer’s Disease

There are two main types of Alzheimer’s Disease: late-onset and early-onset [3]. The former first appears in people in their mid-60s and is a common type, while the latter is where signs start to appear from 30 years to mid-60s. The latter is quite rare.

How is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

There isn’t a single test that can help patients with the diagnosis. Hence, doctors use a range of tests along with their medical history.

Diagnosis can include [4]:

  • Medical history
  • Brain imaging with PET, CT, or MRI scans
  • Neurological exams
  • Physical exams
  • Blood tests
  • Cognitive devices and tests
  • CSF tests

Alzheimer’s Disease Staging

Alzheimer’s disease is classified based on how intense the symptoms are. We will go over the specific symptoms later on, but the main stages are:

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Hereditary?

While family history isn’t the only indicator of getting Alzheimer’s Disease, people who have close or immediate family members suffering from it are more likely to develop this condition.

The risk genes for Alzheimer’s disease include the APOE-e4, where 40-65% of patients with the disease do have this specific gene [6]. It is one of the most common, but others include APOE-e2 and APOE-e3. There are also some rare deterministic genes that account for 1% of most early-onset cases.

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms and signs should be taken seriously. It is important to get in touch with a doctor when the signs first emerge since they can endanger the patient and make it hard for them to do basic daily functions too.

What Are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease could include [7]:

  • Memory loss that is disrupting daily life
  • Challenges in problem-solving or planning
  • Issues with completing otherwise familiar tasks
  • Confusion with place and time
  • Trouble with spatial relationships
  • Issues with understanding visual imagery
  • New problems with writing or speaking
  • Misplacing things
  • No ability to retrace steps
  • Poor or decreased judgment
  • Withdrawal from social or work-related activities
  • Changes in personality or mood

What Are Some Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease?

As mentioned, signs refer to clinical manifestations, something that could be noticed during medical tests or examinations. Some early signs of mild Alzheimer’s Disease could include [8]:

  • Memory loss that is disrupting daily life
  • Lack of initiative or spontaneity
  • Poor judgment and bad decisions
  • Inability to remember dates or places
  • Taking more time to complete routine daily tasks
  • Trouble with bills and money management
  • Forgetting recently acquired information
  • Repeating some questions
  • Challenges with problem-solving and planning
  • Getting lost or wandering
  • Misplacing or losing things in strange places
  • Personality or mood changes
  • Increased aggression or anxiety

Symptoms of moderate Alzheimer’s Disease include:

  • Increased memory loss
  • Increased confusion
  • Withdrawal from social or work-related activities
  • Unable to learn new things
  • Difficulty with speech, writing, reading, or working with numbers
  • Inability to think logically or organize thoughts
  • Shorter attention span
  • Inability to cope with new situations
  • Changes in sleep
  • Difficulty performing otherwise familiar tasks like getting dressed or bathing
  • Occasionally unable to recognize friends or family
  • Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations
  • Impulsive or poor decision making
  • Increased agitation, restlessness, wandering, or restlessness
  • Repetitive movements or statements
  • Occasional twitching of muscles

Symptoms of severe Alzheimer’s Disease include:

  • Lack of awareness of surroundings and recent experiences
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Unable to communication
  • Physical decline
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Increased sleep
  • Grunting, moaning, or groaning
  • Loss of bladder control and bowels

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease in Women vs. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease in Men*

There are more cases of Alzheimer’s disease among women than men. Nearly two-thirds of people with the disease are women. This might be attributed to a range of factors, but women usually tend to live longer than men, which is the biggest reason for this. It is also important to note that mostly women are caretakers for providing support and care for people with this condition too.

Some studies show that women tend to have more symptoms of depression along with Alzheimer’s than men. Men tend to have more agitation and restlessness if they have Alzheimer’s Disease.

*Note that here, we are using the terms “women” and “men” to refer to female and male biological sex at birth, respectively.

Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

Having a high risk for Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up getting it. It just implies that you might be at a higher risk for it.

Here are the risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Being an old person
  • Being a woman
  • Family history of AD
  • Genetic disposition
  • Trauma to the head
  • Abnormalities in the brain
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Low physical activity
  • Lack of mental activities
  • Diet

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

There are some steps that one can take to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some below:

  • Increase in physical activity
  • Avoid smoking
  • Limiting alcohol use
  • Engaging in more social activities
  • Addressing hypertension and obesity
  • Engage in mentally engaging activities (memory games, puzzles, problem-solving, etc.)

Alzheimer’s Disease Prognosis and Treatment

The prognosis for Alzheimer’s Disease is highly dependent on the severity and type of Alzheimer’s Disease. In general, Alzheimer’s Disease caught at earlier stages might have a better outlook and management. If Alzheimer’s Disease is severe, treatment is more difficult.

Alzheimer’s Disease Survival Rate

Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease need support and care to perform daily functions, but the survival rate is high. People with the disease can live for 3-11 years after their diagnosis, but some can even survive up to 20 years [13].

The most common causes of fatality aren’t the disease itself but the symptoms. Difficulties in swallowing and chewing can cause pneumonia, where beverages or food might enter the lungs. Since patients often forget to eat and drink, other causes can include falls, malnutrition, dehydration, and infections that come from poor management of health and food intake.

Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Options

There is no real cure for Alzheimer’s disease (yet). However, treatment is important to change the progression of the disease [14]. There are several ways to treat a patient with Alzheimer’s disease that can help improve the quality of life and even help caretakers to manage the symptoms.

Here are some ways to help [15] [16]:

  • Medicines such as AChE inhibitors and memantine
  • The psychological and behavioral symptoms that come with Alzheimer’s can be addressed with antidepressants
  • Cognitive stimulation treatments
  • Cognitive rehabilitation
  • Reminiscing and focusing on life stories
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Social activities and engagement

It is important to stay mentally and physically engaged when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease since that can help mitigate the progression of the disease.



Alzheimer’s disease can be debilitating since it impacts all parts of life and daily routine. It can also take a toll on the caregivers, so it is important to seek help and support from others too. There are several support groups and online communities where you can seek help as a caregiver.