What are the signs of Alzheimer’s disease?

What Are the Signs of Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease evolves silently for decades in the brain. Thus, when the first symptoms appear, it is thought that half of the neurons have already disappeared in the area where the disease appears (the hippocampus).

At the beginning, Alzheimer’s disease is most often manifested by memory problems. Then, other cerebral functions are affected, with a very variable development according to the patients. As the disease progresses, usual tasks become difficult and adaptation to new situations is particularly difficult.

The main symptoms may differ from one day to the next, depending on the patient’s environment:

The main symptoms may differ from one day to the next, depending on the patient’s environment and the atmosphere.

Memory problems:

this is often the first complaint, the one that triggers a consultation. At the beginning, the patient has difficulty recording new information or the content of recent conversations. He often repeats the same actions several times without remembering that he had already done them. Then, with the evolution of the disease, the older memories gradually fade away;

Problems of orientation in time and space:

the patient loses the notion of time and can get lost in a familiar environment, at home. Very anxiety-provoking, this disorder causes wandering or wandering;

Disturbances in the execution of gestures (apraxia):

the patient has difficulty performing daily tasks that were previously automatic, such as using a fork or a toothbrush for example, and this despite intact motor functions. These disorders contribute greatly to the loss of autonomy;

Language (“aphasia”) and numeracy disorders:

verbal communication can quickly become problematic, daily shopping unmanageable;
Writing disorders (dysorthography);
Inability to recognize and name familiar objects or people (agnosia);

Sleep disorders:

they worsen with the progression of the disease, but can also be early signs of it. Sleep becomes lighter, nocturnal insomnia becomes frequent, the duration of daytime sleep increases, sometimes to the point of reversing the sleep-wake rhythm. The patient may also present sleep apneas (repeated respiratory pauses leading to poor sleep recovery);

Mood disorders:

anxiety, irritability, apathy, depression. It is estimated that 60% of patients are affected by apathy, which is common from the beginning of the disease. It is expressed by a persistent lack of motivation, a loss of initiative, a lack of interest in one’s environment, and an impoverishment of social activities.
Depression can be an early sign of the disease or appear later. It is different from apathy. Its specific signs are persistent sadness, pessimistic ruminations, self-deprecation, guilt, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts… ;

Disruptive behavioural disorders:

agitation, opposition, aggressiveness, etc. They are frequent and fluctuate in Alzheimer patients. They can be disturbing, even dangerous for the patient and his or her family, and have a negative impact on the quality of life of both parties.

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