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Symptoms and Facts
Alzheimer's disease may start with slight memory loss and confusion, but it eventually leads to irreversible mental impairment that destroys a person's ability to remember, reason, learn and imagine.
Everyone has occasional lapses in memory. It's normal to forget where you put your car keys or to blank on the names of people whom you rarely see. But the memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease persist and worsen. People with Alzheimer's may:
- Repeat things
- Often forget conversations or appointments
- Routinely misplace things, often putting them in illogical locations
- Eventually forget the names of family members and everyday objects
Problems with abstract thinking
People with Alzheimer's may initially have trouble balancing their checkbook, a problem that progresses to trouble recognizing and dealing with numbers.
Difficulty finding the right word
It may be a challenge for those with Alzheimer's to find the right words to express thoughts or even follow conversations. Eventually, reading and writing also are affected.
People with Alzheimer's disease often lose their sense of time and dates, and may find themselves lost in familiar surroundings.
Loss of judgment
Solving everyday problems, such as knowing what to do if food on the stove is burning, becomes increasingly difficult, eventually impossible. Alzheimer's is characterized by greater difficulty in doing things that require planning, decision making and judgment.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Once-routine tasks that require sequential steps, such as cooking, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer's may forget how to do even the most basic things.
People with Alzheimer's may exhibit:
- Mood swings
- Distrust in others
- Increased stubbornness
- Social withdrawal