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Common Non-Cognitive Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 9:00 am on

While most people are familiar with the most obvious symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the disease often comes with non-cognitive symptoms, including a few that develop long before memory loss is apparent in seniors who eventually develop the disease. In fact, 90 percent of people with Alzheimer’s are affected by non-cognitive symptoms of the disease. Here are 6 non-cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s to watch for. 

1. Depression

A major study completed recently found that 30 percent of people who eventually developed Alzheimer’s had symptoms of depression. Researchers are still unsure if depression without signs of cognitive impairment raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but depression can cause or worsen memory loss in seniors who have some type of impairment.

2. Mood and Personality Changes

It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s to experience changes in mood or personality. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may become very suspicious, scared, or anxious or get upset in places where they were once comfortable.

3. Loss of Motivation

Apathy, social withdrawal, and a loss of interest in hobbies often accompany Alzheimer’s, although it is often mistaken for depression. Around 40 percent of people with Alzheimer’s also have depression, and loss of motivation that occurs in the early stages of the disease may be due to depression.

4. Aggression

Physical and verbal aggression is a common non-cognitive symptom of late-stage Alzheimer’s. Screaming and threats are common, although some patients may become physically aggressive and attempt to assault visitors, family members, and Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers

5. Inappropriate Behavior

Mid- and late-stage Alzheimer’s disease often brings with it one of the most difficult symptoms to manage: impulsive or inappropriate behavior. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may blurt out rude comments to people, make inappropriate sexual advances, or even shoplift from a store.

6. Clingy Behavior

According to caregivers in Sonoma County, seniors with Alzheimer’s have a tendency to become clingy to a certain caregiver and follow him or her around. This behavior, called “shadowing,” usually occurs when the person is most confused and anxious. This is often towards the end of a day. 

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