Effects of the disease
(Content reproduced with permission from the Alzheimer Society of Canada)
Alzheimer's disease eventually affects all aspects of a person's life: how he or she thinks and acts. Since individuals are affected differently, it is difficult to predict the symptoms each person will have, the order in which they will appear, or the speed of the disease's progression.
In general the following will be affected by the disease:
- A person's ability to understand, think, remember and communicate will be affected.
- The ability to make decisions will be reduced.
- Simple tasks that have been performed for years will become more difficult or be forgotten.
- Confusion and memory loss, initially for recent events and eventually for long-term events, will occur.
- The ability to find the right words and follow a conversation will be affected.
- A person may appear uninterested and apathetic, and may quickly lose interest in the hobbies they previously enjoyed.
- The ability to control mood and emotion may be lost.
- Some individuals are less expressive and are more withdrawn.
- However, it is now becoming clear that a person even in the later stages of the disease may continue to feel a range of emotions including joy, anger, fear, love, and sadness.
Changes will develop in the way the person reacts to his or her environment. These actions may seem out of character for the person. Some common reactions include:
- repeating the same action or words
- hiding possessions
- physical outbursts
The disease can affect a person's physical co-ordination and mobility, leading to a gradual physical decline. This will affect the person's ability to independently perform day-to-day tasks, such as eating, bathing and getting dressed.