Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are lapses with memory.
At first, these lapses may be infrequent and inconsistent, but over time they become more regular. As the disease progresses, new symptoms will present themselves, such as uncontrollable anxiety, fear, confusion, and anger. Mood swings occur for no apparent reason. Judgment becomes impaired. Familiar-even simple-tasks, such as boiling water, become difficult. And misplacing possessions becomes a regular occurrence.
These could be viewed as inconveniences, as mild cognitive impairments. But the disease is far more debilitating than what these beginning stages reveal. As the disease progresses, mobility becomes limited. Eating becomes something often forgotten. Speaking becomes difficult, or even impossible. Increasing neurological damage can result in heart attack, stroke, and other common causes of death. Researchers now believe that Alzheimer’s disease begins to develop in the brain up to 20 years before the first symptoms occur, and that deterioration can continue for 10 to 20 years after diagnosis. It is a slow, painful, costly disease … and it is always fatal.
Virtually everyone experiences some subtle memory troubles as they get older. This is a normal part of the ageing process, and a factor that makes it particularly difficult to identify Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.
The classic distinction with Alzheimer’s disease is that one of the very earliest symptoms is difficulty in forming new memories- what will appear to be short-term memory loss. Other early signs can be location confusion (not recognizing familiar surroundings or becoming easily lost), difficulty with words, and trouble with basic math.