Signs & Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease

Red River Hospital helps individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s build a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Serving Wichita Falls, TX, Red River is the leading provider of Alzheimer’s treatment.

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease

Learn about Alzheimer’s

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. A disease that causes memory loss, impaired behaviors, and disorientated thoughts, those with Alzheimer’s disease may experience difficulty functioning normally. Hindrances in effective communication, planning, and reasoning get worse over time, as the disease is a degenerative one. Beyond the inner turmoil that is caused, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s could see negative effects in other areas of his or her life.

Treatment to slow the progression and alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease is available. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment options can be explored and implemented. And while most people think of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis as grim, early intervention can provide a person with the opportunity to manage symptoms and maintain a high quality of life.


Alzheimer’s statistics

Research has found that, as the general population advances in age, the number of diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s disease has gone up. Of all dementia cases, 50%-80% account for Alzheimer’s disease patients. The chances of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years between the ages of 65 and 85. In people who are 70 years old, 1%-2% have Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, those who are 85 years old represent 40% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Alzheimer’s

A combination of genetic, physical, and environmental influences can affect a person’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Mental health professionals, researchers, and scientists have agreed that these influences can affect the brain over time and lead to the onset of the disease. The following explain possible causes for the development of Alzheimer’s disease:

Genetic: Hereditary gene mutations are believed to lead to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Individuals with a first-degree relative who has suffered from the disease are at an increased risk of developing symptoms. Family history of Alzheimer’s increases a person’s risk to about 50%.

Physical: Trauma to the brain, which can lead to an impairment in the brain’s normal functioning, could bring about symptoms of Alzheimer’s in a person’s lifetime. Nerve cell damage, as a result of a trauma, often requires cognitive testing in order to determine if the damage is causing Alzheimer’s symptoms to occur.

Environmental: While research on environmental causes is ongoing, experts believe that where a person lives, their life experiences, and their lifestyle choices could render a person susceptible to the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Moreover, poor diet, malnutrition, lack of physical activity, social isolation, and smoking can also contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Advanced age
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Being a woman
  • Head trauma
  • High blood pressure and/or cholesterol
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Down Syndrome – Changes in the brain that occur with Down Syndrome can cause the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by age 40)

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Depending on how far the disease has advanced, the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can vary. With initial symptoms being mild confusion or forgetfulness, the following could occur at some point in the disease’s progression:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Misplacement of things
  • Inappropriate behaviors
  • Wandering
  • Social withdrawal
  • Struggling to communicate effectively
  • Decreased social skills
  • Repetition of thoughts or ideas
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Requiring assistance in performing tasks

Physical symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • Hindered motor functioning
  • Weight loss
  • Poor balance
  • Dizziness

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Lack of focus
  • Significant memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Loss of object / facial recognition
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired ability to reason

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Personality changes
  • Aggressiveness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of initiative


Effects of Alzheimer’s

The effects of Alzheimer’s disease can have devastating results for the person suffering from the condition. Also trying to family members and loved ones, Alzheimer’s disease can bring about daily struggles that would otherwise not be an issue if the disease was not present. As a degenerative disease, the symptoms get progressively worse and can greatly hinder functioning. Examples of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease are:

  • Impaired language
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Severe memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Fecal or urinary Incontinence
  • Lack of balance
  • Increased vulnerability to infection
  • Changes in personality
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Inability to recognize family and loved ones

Co-Occurring Disorders

Alzheimer’s disease and co-occurring disorders

There are a number of co-occurring mental health conditions that can be diagnosed at the same time as Alzheimer’s. These are a few examples:

  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder   

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