Alzheimer’s Disease Causes, Symptoms & Signs

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital offers high-quality services and support for adolescents, adults, and senior adults who are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. Located in Chattanooga, TN, Erlanger is a leading provider of Alzheimer’s disease treatment.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Learn about Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a complex and often misunderstood disorder that involves so much more than what is usually depicted on television or in movies.

At its core, Alzheimer’s disease impacts a person’s memory, but it doesn’t happen all at once. Alzheimer’s disease develops gradually over time, from several months to several years. Alzheimer’s may initially seem inconsequential and may begin revealing itself through minor incidences, such as forgetting where the car keys are. Over time, though, the disease takes deeper root and can cause a person to forget the names of close relatives, where they live, and even who they are. Alzheimer’s disease can drastically impact an individual’s quality of life, to the point where they may need help taking care of themselves.

Fortunately, treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is available for anyone who is suffering. Like any illness or disease that affects the mind, the earlier it is caught and diagnosed, the better. With proper treatment, it’s possible to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and learn how to manage your symptoms.


Statistics about Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing crisis in the United States and across the globe. According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • 7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
  • Someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds.

It’s estimated that by the year 2050, there will be nearly 14 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers are still working to find the true root of Alzheimer’s disease, but some of the most common causes and risk factors include:

  • Someone in your family being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Being a diabetic
  • Being a senior adult
  • Having heart disease or high blood pressure/cholesterol
  • Having Down syndrome
  • Having a history of head trauma

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

The early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult to spot. Especially in today’s fast-paced world, forgetting an address or phone number can seem commonplace. As Alzheimer’s develops and progresses, though, the signs and symptoms become more apparent. Some symptoms can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Aggression and hostility toward others
  • Drastic shifts in mood
  • Depression
  • Hazy memory of time and dates
  • Wandering
  • Misplacing and losing items
  • Struggling to communicate
  • Arriving late or not showing up at all to regularly scheduled events
  • Requiring assistance with everyday activities

Physical symptoms:

  • Decline in muscle mass/strength
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Severe changes in appetite
  • Severe changes in weight
  • Disturbances while sleeping
  • Loss of motor function

Mental symptoms:

  • Delusions/hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to identify objects or people
  • Lacking focus
  • Confusion/memory loss
  • Impaired judgment


Effects of Alzheimer’s disease

The sooner that Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, the better. As time goes on, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease can worsen, and there are fewer treatment options available. Delaying treatment, or not receiving treatment at all, can lead to the following effects:

  • Unable to live independently
  • Struggling with communication
  • Development of other mental health concerns
  • Development of physical health problems
  • Unable to make new memories
  • Unable to recall memories of one’s own life

Please know that with proper treatment and care, an individual with Alzheimer’s can learn how to manage the disease and avoid these long-term effects. Through management techniques and a strong support network, it’s possible to cease the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and regain a healthier quality of life.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have Alzheimer’s disease

If you have Alzheimer’s disease, it’s common to also be diagnosed with any of the following co-occurring mental health conditions:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval