There are different signs of incipient Alzheimer's disease. For example, a disease can also meet people who are not yet in old age and the symptoms remain undetected for long time, or can not be classified correctly. In the United States, seven symptoms were defined by the National Institute of Aging, which can be seen as warning signs for Alzheimer's disease:
- The concerned person repeats the same questions/answers.
- When asked a question, the person answers with a repetition of the question.
- The person always tells the same stories again and does not realize that he has told them many times before
- The person mislays objects or puts them in totally unsuitable places (e.g. putting the telephone in the refrigerator). Often, the person accuses other people of having hidden or stolen these objects.
- The person has problems with performing everyday tasks which caused no problems before (e.g. cooking).
- The person loses the safe handling of money or other business activities.
- The person neglects his own health, but isn't aware of it or he/her denies this fact.
On the chart below you can see another Alzheimer's symptoms and their frequency in percent. The dark blue bar describes the frequency of each symptom and just below it, one can see how likely it is that the symptom is severe.
There are different stages of Alzheimer's disease. It often begins with a form of dementia or pre-dementia. In this phase the person often has problems with short-term memory or with the inclusion of new information. The person is changing slowly, and often gets depressions. Depending on the progress of the disease speech disorders may occur or the ability to make rational decisions is reduced.
If some of the symptoms above have been detected by a doctor, Alzheimer's disease might already have been progressing subliminally for many years. The impairment of the short-time memory gets more prominent in the middle stage of the disease and the communication skills decrease when watched from an outsider's view. In addition to the impairment of the communication skills, the movement skills are also affected. For example, there is an Alzheimer's test, in which patients have to draw an analog clock. This usually does not work properly because the skills of writing, painting or drawing are fading, too. When the patient enters the middle stage of the disease, it is difficult to support essential functions by other persons. It depends on the patient's age and whether he is still able to do autonomous housekeeping, that he/her must be supported by nursing personnel.
In the final stage of Alzheimer's disease, patients lose the focus on reality. Often, they no longer recognize family members and the long-term memory is also significantly impaired. Due to lack of movement, patients usually get bed-ridden.
Other symptoms and limitations
Other symptoms and limitations that may occur with Alzheimer's disease can be found in the following graphic: