Misplacing your car keys, forgetting to buy eggs, or calling your neighbor by the wrong name are common memory lapses. Forgetfulness comes with age and it is easy to start questioning what is normal and what are signs of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about this disease, we have put together a series of important facts to help you better understand the different aspects of the condition.

Before Symptoms

Just like many other diseases, changes in the brain that are related to Alzheimer’s disease can start even before its symptoms become truly noticeable. This stage is often called pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease which likely begins approximately 10 to 15 years before patients start experiencing symptoms. This pre-clinical stage has no treatment as there has not been sufficient research done for this stage.

Basic Forgetfulness

Everyone can forget some things from time to time and that is likely to happen much more regularly with age. Very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can look like normal forgetfulness. Older adults who experience memory lapses tend to forget things that they would have otherwise been able to recollect easily, such as people’s names or where they had placed their keys. However, they are still able to work, drive, and participate in social activities. Over time, these memory lapses can become more frequent, and getting early treatment can help to slow down the progression.

Noticeable Memory Difficulties

This stage brings more noticeable changes and it will be much harder to start blaming the age factor. It is common to be diagnosed in this stage because this is when disruptions to a person’s daily routine take place. Common difficulties in this stage go beyond just misplacing objects and forgetting names. Patients may:

  • Find organizing and remembering plans increasingly difficult
  • Have difficulty remembering materials that they have recently read such as books or magazines
  • Experience challenges at work or in social settings
  • Have more trouble recollecting a word or name

This stage may cause patients to become anxious and some people may even be in a state of denial. These feelings are normal but not seeking professional help may cause the symptoms to worsen. The best way to control the symptoms is to consult a professional regarding the necessary treatment which can include care planning and medication.

More Than Memory Loss

This stage involves more damage to the brain which can include other aspects of cognition other than memory. Patients will experience difficulty with organization, language, and calculations. These problems cause them problems at work as well as with daily living activities. Other challenges are as follows:

  • Increased risk of getting lost
  • Confusion about the time of the day and where they are
  • Difficulty in choosing proper attire
  • Changes in sleep patterns due to restlessness at night

Decreased Independence

In this stage, patients will likely experience problems remembering people who matter to them such as friends and family. They may also struggle with new things and basic daily living activities; for example, grooming and dressing may become too overwhelming. They may also experience emotional changes such as:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia