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General Practice 2023

8 main symptoms of Alzheimer's (with online test)

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8 main symptoms of Alzheimer's (with online test)
8 main symptoms of Alzheimer's (with online test)

Alzheimer's disease is a disease in which early diagnosis is essential to delay its progress, as it usually gets worse with the progression of dementia.

Alzheimer's symptoms are more common after the age of 65, however, it is not impossible for them to happen in young people, especially when there is a family history, and may start around 30 years old and receive the name of early Alzheimer's.

The main signs that can help in the early identification of Alzheimer's are:

  1. Memory loss;
  2. Difficulty performing everyday tasks;
  3. Disorientation;
  4. Language problems;
  5. Repeat conversations or tasks;
  6. Replace things;
  7. Sudden changes in mood and personality in some cases;
  8. Disinterest in usual activities.

It is important to pay attention to the appearance of these signs and symptoms, so that the neurologist or psychiatrist can be consulted and, thus, the diagnosis is made and the treatment started in order to avoid the progression of the alterations.

Alzheimer's Online Test

Take this quick test to find out if there is a risk of having Alzheimer's:

Evaluate your risk of developing Alzheimer's

Illustrative image of the questionnaire
  • I have a good memory, although there are small forgettings that do not interfere with my day-to-day.
  • Sometimes I forget things like the question I was asked, I forget appointments or where I left my keys.
  • I often forget what I was doing in the kitchen, living room, or bedroom and also what I was doing.
  • I can't remember simple, recent information like the name of someone I just met, even if I try very hard.
  • It's impossible to remember where I am and who the people around me are.
  • Yes! I also find it easy to recognize people and places.
  • I don't remember very well what day it is and I have a slight difficulty saving dates.
  • I'm not sure what month it is, but I can recognize familiar locations. However, I get a little confused in new places and can get lost.
  • I don't know. I also don't remember exactly who my family members are, where I live and I don't remember anything about my past.
  • All I know is my name, but sometimes I remember the names of my children, grandchildren or other relatives
  • I am fully capable of solving day-to-day problems and dealing well with personal and financial issues.
  • I have some difficulty understanding some abstract concepts (such as why a person is sad).
  • I'm feeling a little insecure and afraid to make decisions. That's why I prefer that others decide for me.
  • I don't feel capable of solving any problem and the only decision I make is what I want to eat.
  • I am unable to make any decisions and am totally dependent on other people for help.
  • Yes, I can work normally, I shop, I am involved with the community, church and other social groups.
  • Yes, but I'm starting to have some trouble driving. Still, I feel safe and know how to handle emergency or unplanned situations.
  • Yes, but I am unable to be alone in important situations and need someone to accompany me on social engagements.
  • No, I don't leave the house alone because I don't have the capacity and I always need help.
  • No, I am unable to leave the house alone and I am too sick for it.
  • Great. I still have chores around the house, I have hobbies and personal interests.
  • I no longer feel like doing anything indoors, but if you insist, I can try to do something.
  • I completely abandoned my activities, as well as more complex hobbies and interests.
  • All I know is showering alone, getting dressed and watching TV and I am not able to do any other chores around the house.
  • I can't do anything on my own and I need help with everything.
  • I am fully capable of taking care of myself, dressing, washing, showering and using the bathroom.
  • I'm starting to have some trouble taking care of my own personal hygiene.
  • I need others to remind me that I have to go to the bathroom, but I manage to relieve myself.
  • I need help dressing and cleaning and sometimes I pee on my clothes.
  • I can't do anything myself and I need someone else to take care of my personal hygiene.
  • I have normal social behavior and there are no changes in my personality.
  • I have small changes in my behavior, personality and emotional control.
  • My personality is slowly changing, before I was very nice and now I'm a little grumpy.
  • They say I've changed a lot and I'm not the same person anymore and I'm already shunned by my old friends, neighbors and distant relatives.
  • My behavior has changed a lot and I have become a difficult and unpleasant person.
  • I have no difficulty speaking or writing.
  • I'm starting to have some trouble finding the right words and it takes me longer to complete my reasoning.
  • It is getting harder and harder to find the right words and I have been having trouble naming objects and I notice that I have less vocabulary.
  • It's very difficult to communicate, I have difficulty with words, understanding what they say and I don't know how to read or write.
  • I just can't communicate, I don't say much, I don't write and I don't understand very well what they say to me.
  • Normal, I don't notice any change in my mood, interest or motivation.
  • Sometimes I get sad, nervous, anxious or depressed, but without major worries in life.
  • I get sad, nervous or anxious every day and this has become more and more frequent.
  • Every day I feel sad, nervous, anxious or depressed and have no interest or motivation to do any task.
  • Sadness, depression, anxiety and nervousness are my daily companions and I totally lost my interest in things and I have no motivation for anything anymore.
  • I have perfect attention, good concentration and great interaction with everything around me.
  • I'm starting to have trouble paying attention to something and get sleepy during the day.
  • I have some attention difficulties and poor concentration, so I can stare at a point or with my eyes closed for some time, even without sleeping.
  • I spend a good part of the day sleeping, I don't pay attention to anything and when I talk I say things without logic or that have no relation to the topic of conversation.
  • I can't pay attention to anything and I'm completely unfocused.

Symptoms according to the stage of the disease

The signs of Alzheimer's can also vary according to the stage/phase of the disease that the person is:

1. Initial phase

In the early stages of Alzheimer's, the main signs are:

  • Memory changes, especially difficulty remembering recent events, such as where you kept your house keys, someone's name or a place you've been, for example;
  • Disorientation in familiar environments,such as supermarket, cinema, family or friends house, for example;
  • Difficulty making simple decisions such as planning what to cook or buy;
  • Constantly repeating the same information, or asking the same questions;
  • Loss of willingness to perform day-to-day activities;
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to do, such as sewing or doing math;
  • Change in behavior, usually becoming more aggressive or anxious;
  • Increased anxiety;
  • More time to do your usual daily activities.

At this stage, the memory alteration happens for recent situations, and the memory of old situations remains normal, which makes it more difficult to realize that it may be a sign of Alzheimer's.

Thus, when these alterations are noticed, it should not be associated only with normal aging, it is important to consult a geriatrician or neurologist for evaluations and memory tests that can identify more serious alterations. If you suspect that someone close to you has this disease, answer the questions in our Alzheimer's Rapid Test.

2. Moderate phase

In the moderate phase of Alzheimer's the main signs are:

  • Difficulty cooking or cleaning the house, leaving the stove on, putting raw food on the table, or using the wrong utensils to clean the house, for example;
  • Inability to perform personal hygiene or forgetting to clean oneself, wearing the same clothes constantly or walking around dirty;
  • Difficulty communicating, not remembering words or saying meaningless sentences and having little vocabulary;
  • Difficulty reading and writing;
  • Disorientation in familiar places,getting lost in one's own home, urinating in the wastebasket, or confusing rooms;
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing and seeing things that are not there and suspicion/paranoia that your things are being "stolen";
  • Loss of impulse control, so you may undress in inappropriate environments or use inappropriate language;
  • Always be very suspicious, especially of robberies;
  • Sleep changes, changing day to night, and insomnia.

At this stage, the elderly person becomes dependent on a family member to take care of him/her, because he/she is no longer able to perform the day-to-day tasks, due to all the difficulties and mental confusion. In addition, it is possible to start having difficulty walking and having sleep disturbances.

3. Advanced Phase

In the advanced stage of the disease, the symptoms are already more severe and the person can become quite dependent, the main signs being:

  • Do not memorize any new information and do not remember old information;
  • Forgetting family, friends and known places, not identifying the name or recognizing the face;
  • Difficulty understanding what is happening around you;
  • Having urinary and stool incontinence;
  • Difficulty swallowing food, may gag or take a long time to finish a meal;
  • Exhibit inappropriate behavior,such as burping or spitting on the floor;
  • Loss of ability to make simple movements with arms and legs, such as eating with a spoon;
  • Difficulty walkingr, sitting or standing, for example.

At this stage, the person may start to lie down or sit down all day and, if nothing is done to prevent this, the tendency is for them to become increasingly fragile and limited. Thus, he may need to use a wheelchair or even be bedridden, becoming dependent on other people to perform all the tasks, such as bathing or changing diapers.

In addition, it is also possible to notice increased drowsiness, convulsions and urinary and fecal incontinence.

How to confirm the diagnosis

To make the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, it is important to consult a geriatrician and/or a neurologist, to evaluate the person's clinical history and observe the signs and symptoms of the disease. In addition, tests such as magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and blood tests are recommended.

Memory and cognition tests are also performed, such as the Mini Mental State Examination, Token test, Clock Test and verbal fluency test, to assess the degree of the symptom presented and, thus, be able to classify more accurately the stage of the disease the person is in.

How the treatment is done

Alzheimer's disease is treated with medication to reduce the symptoms of the disease, such as Memantine, in addition to physical therapy and cognitive stimulation.

Thus, as the disease has no cure, treatment must be instituted for life and it is normal for the individual to become dependent on others to perform everyday tasks, such as eating, brushing teeth or bathing and, therefore, it is important that there is a caregiver nearby to help and prevent the patient from being in danger.See more details about Alzheimer's treatment.

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