Alzheimer's Disease Warning Signs

"Alzheimer's disease" is the term used to describe a dementing disorder marked by certain brain changes, regardless of the age of onset. Dementia is a condition resulting in significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging, it is not something that inevitably happens in later life. Rather, it is one of the dementing disorders, a group of brain diseases that lead to the loss of mental and physical functions. The disorder, whose cause is unknown, affects a small but significant percentage of older Americans.

The Alzheimer's Association has developed the following list of warning signs that include common symptoms of AD. Individuals who exhibit several of these symptoms should see a physician for a complete evaluation.
  1. Memory loss that affects job skills
  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  3. Problems with language
  4. Disorientation to time and place
  5. Poor or decreased judgment
  6. Problems with abstract thinking
  7. Misplacing things
  8. Changes in mood or behavior
  9. Changes in personality
  10. Loss of initiative
Alzheimer's Disease At A Glance
  • Alzheimer's disease is a brain disease of unknown cause that leads to dementia.

  • Most patients with Alzheimer's disease are over 65 years of age.

  • There are 10 classic warning signs of Alzheimer's disease: memory loss that affects job skills, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation to time and place, poor or decreased judgment, problems with abstract thinking, misplacing things, changes in mood or behavior, changes in personality, and loss of initiative.

  • Patients with symptoms of dementia should be thoroughly evaluated before they become inappropriately or negligently labeled Alzheimer's disease.

  • Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, treatments are available to alleviate many of the symptoms that cause suffering.

  • The management of AD consists of medication-based and non-medication based treatments organized to care for the patient and family. Treatments aimed at changing the underlying course of the disease (delaying or reversing the progression) have so far been largely unsuccessful. Medicines that restore the defect, or malfunctioning, in the chemical messengers of the nerve cells have been shown to improve symptoms. Finally, medications are available that deal with the psychiatric manifestations of AD.
For additional information, please read the Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia articles.

Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004


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