Recognizing Alzheimer's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and Stages

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old photographs

For families with aging loved ones, dealing with cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia can be incredibly challenging. Is dad repeatedly losing his keys just a sign of normal forgetfulness, or could it be something more serious? While this blog cannot provide a medical diagnosis, it can offer valuable insights into the symptoms, causes, and stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This article aims to enhance understanding and promote early intervention.

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that primarily impacts older adults, causing memory loss, cognitive impairment, and behavioral changes. According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, making up 60-80% of cases. This condition disrupts brain function, leading to diminished memory, reasoning, and the ability to perform daily activities. Symptoms worsen progressively over time.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

The symptoms of Alzheimer's can vary significantly but, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, they generally include:

  • Memory Loss: One of the earliest and most noticeable signs is difficulty remembering recently learned information, forgetting important dates or events, and asking the same questions repeatedly.
    • Typical Age-Related Change: Occasionally forgetting names or appointments but recalling them later.
  • Confusion with Time or Place: Those with Alzheimer’s often lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time, struggle to understand things that are not happening immediately, and sometimes forget where they are or how they got there.
    • Typical Age-Related Change: Sometimes forgetting the date or time but remembering it later.
  • Difficulty with Familiar Tasks: Challenges in completing everyday tasks such as managing finances, following a recipe, or driving to familiar locations.
    • Typical Age-Related Change: Occasionally needing help with cooking or operating household appliances.
  • Behavioral Changes: Mood and personality changes, including increased anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, and altered sleep patterns.
    • Typical Age-Related Change: Becoming more set in routines and feeling upset when expectations are disrupted.
  • Communication Problems: Struggling to follow or join conversations, having difficulty with vocabulary, often repeating themselves, or pausing mid-sentence.
    • Typical Age-Related Change: Occasionally having trouble finding the right word.

Causes of Alzheimer's Disease

The exact causes of Alzheimer's remain unclear, but it is believed to result from a mix of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, potential contributing elements include:

  • Genetics: A family history of Alzheimer’s and specific genes like APOE-e4 can increase the risk.
  • Brain Changes: The disease is marked by amyloid plaques and tau tangles, which disrupt neuron communication and lead to cell death. For more information on brain chemistry and Alzheimer’s, see Stanford Medicine.
  • Age: The risk of developing Alzheimer's significantly increases with age, doubling approximately every five years after age 65.
  • Lifestyle and Heart Health: Poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes can elevate the risk.

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease progresses through several distinct stages:

  • Preclinical Stage: Brain changes, including the buildup of amyloid plaques, begin years before any symptoms appear.
  • Mild Alzheimer's (Early Stage): Individuals may experience mild memory loss and cognitive difficulties but can still function independently with some occasional lapses.
  • Moderate Alzheimer's (Middle Stage): This stage is often the longest, with symptoms becoming more pronounced. Daily activities become more challenging, confusion increases, and noticeable personality changes occur. More assistance is needed.
  • Severe Alzheimer's (Late Stage): Individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, engage in conversation, and control movement, requiring full-time care.

Understanding Alzheimer’s disease is crucial for providing effective support and care. Early diagnosis and intervention can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for both patients and caregivers. By recognizing the symptoms, understanding the causes, and being aware of the stages, families can better prepare and seek necessary medical and social support.

At Homewatch CareGivers of St. Charles, we specialize in providing compassionate and professional Alzheimer's home care. Our trained caregivers develop personalized care plans tailored to each individual's needs, ensuring the highest quality of life possible in the comfort of their own home. If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of Alzheimer's, consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and consider Homewatch CareGivers of St. Charles as a trusted partner in managing this condition. Early detection and professional homecare can greatly improve the well-being of those affected by Alzheimer's.



1. Alzheimer's Association. (2024). "What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?" (

2. Mayo Clinic. (2024). "Alzheimer’s disease." (

3. National Institute on Aging. (2024). "Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet." (

4. Alzheimer's Association. (2024). "10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's." (

5. Mayo Clinic. (2024). "Dementia Symptoms and Causes." (

6. Alzheimer's Association. (2024). "Genetics of Alzheimer's Disease." (

7. Stanford Medicine. (2024). "Alzheimer's Disease?" (,of%20a%20protein%20called%20tau).

8. Alzheimer's Association. (2024). "Risk Factors for Dementia." (

9. Alzheimer's Association. (2024). "Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease." (

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