The U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy Research provides this list of questions to help recognize the condition:
Learning and retaining new information. Does the person misplace objects and/or have trouble remembering appointments or recent conversations? Is the person repetitive in conversation?
Handling complex tasks. Do familiar activities like balancing a checkbook, cooking a meal, or other tasks that involve a complex train of thought, become increasingly difficult?
Ability to reason. Does the person find it difficult to respond appropriately to everyday problems, such as a flat tire? Does a previously well-adjusted person disregard rules of social conduct?
Spatial ability and orientation. Does driving and finding one’s way in familiar surroundings become impossible? Does the person have problems recognizing familiar objects?
Language. Does the person have difficulty following or participating in conversations? Does the person have trouble finding the words to express what they want to say?
Behavior. Does the person seem more passive or less responsive than usual or more suspicious or irritable? Does the person have trouble paying attention?
The onset and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are usually very slow and gradual, seldom occurring before the age of 65. It occurs in the following three stages:
- Forgetfulness, poor insight, mild difficulties with word-finding, personality changes, difficulties with calculations, losing or misplacing things, repetition of questions or statements and a minor degree of disorientation
- Memory worsens, words are used more and more inappropriately, basic self-care skills are lost, personality changes, agitation develops, can’t recognize distant family or friends, has difficulty communicating, wanders off, becomes deluded and may experience hallucinations
- Bedridden, incontinent, uncomprehending and mute.