Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Worsening memory
- Trouble remembering new information
- Routinely misplacing possessions or putting them in illogical locations
- Repeating statements or questions
- Becoming lost more often
- Personality changes, including depression, social withdrawal, irritability or aggressiveness
- Loss of inhibitions
- Disorientation and confusion
- Difficulty with reasoning and making judgments
- Taking longer to perform daily tasks
The severity of these symptoms is related directly to the stage of disease, which often progresses slowly. Most patients are diagnosed once the disease progresses to mild dementia, when the patient or their family notice mood swings, personality changes, memory loss, or difficulty organizing and expressing thoughts or performing complex tasks. Patients may find themselves becoming more easily confused and having difficulty coping with new situations.
As the disease progresses, patients may need help with daily activities that were once routine, such as grooming. In the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the patient’s physical capabilities will be affected.
Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still under investigation, but scientists currently believe a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors is responsible.
While Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process, the risk of developing the disease increases significantly in patients older than 65. The risk of developing the disease also is increased if the patient has a parent or sibling diagnosed with the condition, or if they have experienced severe or repeated head trauma. In fewer than 5 percent of cases, the disease is linked to specific changes in a person’s genetic makeup.