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Signs & Symptoms Neurology & Neurosurgery

Alzheimer's Disease
Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:

  • Loss of Abstract Thinking Someone with Alzheimer's disease may lose the ability to draw conclusions and solve problems. It may become difficult to balance a checkbook, for example, because the patient has forgotten what to do with the numbers.

  • Disorientation People with Alzheimer's disease can become lost on the street where they live, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.

  • Lack of Initiative A person with the disease may become passive or unmotivated, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual and not pursuing his or her usual activities.
  • Language Problems People with Alzheimer's disease often forget simple words or substitute words with inappropriate ones. An Alzheimer's patient who can't find his or her toothbrush may ask for "that thing for my mouth."
  • Misplacing Items We're all prone to misplacing a wallet or key from time to time, but a person with Alzheimer's will put things in unusual places, such as an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
  • Mood Swings Rapid mood swings — from calm to tears to anger — for no apparent reason is another common symptom.
  • Personality Changes Personalities tend to change with age, but a person with Alzheimer's disease may have a severe personality change, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.
  • Poor Judgment A loss of judgment is a common symptom. A patient may dress without regard to the weather, wearing several shirts or blouses on a warm day or very little clothing in cold weather. Others may give away large amounts of money to telemarketers or pay for home repairs or products they don't need.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.