Clinical Signs & Symptoms of AD

Initial brain changes associated with AD may occur 20 or more years before the early signs and symptoms become evident.28-30 Click here to take the Alzheimer’s Association’s Brain Tour at™31 An excellent video illustrating the AD associated changes in the brain is available at: There are 10 early signs and symptoms of AD (Figure 1).33

Figure 1. Ten early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.33
  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Changes in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words when speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

These signs and symptoms are diverse. In most circumstances, the onset of AD symptoms is subtle and progresses gradually as neurons malfunction and die. Providers may initially notice a person having difficulty with short-term memory. This is because neuron malfunction and death normally begins in parts of the brain involved in processing new memories.1,2 As the disease progresses, providers will observe the “continuum” of AD as symptoms progress from mild to moderate and eventually severe.1