Fast Five Quiz: Alzheimer's Disease Signs and Symptoms

Jasvinder P. Chawla, MD, MBA; Shaheen E. Lakhan, MD, PhD, MS, MEd


September 11, 2023

As Alzheimer's disease begins to affect the cerebral cortex, memory loss continues and impairment of other cognitive abilities emerges. This stage is referred to as mild Alzheimer's disease and is when the clinical diagnosis of the disease is usually made.

In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, symptoms might be confused with normal changes that occur with aging. Cognitive features of early Alzheimer's disease include memory loss, mild anomic aphasia, and visuospatial dysfunction.

Signs that point to mild-stage disease include:

  • Mood and personality changes; increased anxiety

  • Confusion about the location of familiar places

  • Taking longer to accomplish normal, daily tasks

  • Trouble handling money and paying bills

  • Compromised judgment, often leading to bad decisions

  • Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative

In the moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease, behavior problems, such as wandering and agitation, can emerge.

Signs that reflect moderate-stage disease include:

  • Shortened attention span

  • Repetitive statements or movement; occasional muscle twitches

  • Difficulty with language; problems with reading, writing, and working with numbers

  • Increasing memory loss and confusion

  • Problems recognizing friends and family members

  • Difficulty organizing thoughts and thinking logically

  • Inability to learn new things or to cope with new or unexpected situations

  • Restlessness, agitation, anxiety, tearfulness, and wandering, especially in the late afternoon or at night

  • Hallucinations, delusions, suspiciousness or paranoia, and irritability

  • Loss of impulse control (shown through behavior such as vulgar language or undressing at inappropriate times or places)

  • Perceptual motor problems (such as trouble getting out of a chair or setting the table)

Learn more about the stages of Alzheimer's disease.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.