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10 Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

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November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month.  As such, I thought it would be appropriate to review 10 common signs and symptoms of this dreaded condition. 

1. Memory Loss that Disrupts Daily Living

One of the most common and well-known signs of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is memory loss, particularly short-term memory loss (forgetting recently acquired information).  This can show up in various ways: 

  • Asking for the same information repeatedly
  • Forgetting important dates, meetings, and events
  • Repeating the same story over and over again

2.  Impaired Executive Functioning

The term “executive functioning” can best be understood by the following acrostic memory device: PRISM, wherein each letter of the word prism stands for a component of executive function. 

  • P – planning
  • R – review of said plan to estimate chances of success
  • I – implementation of the plan
  • S – sequencing of individual steps in the plan
  • M - monitoring of the progress of the plan to assure timely and appropriate completion

Subtle challenges in executive functioning often precede obvious lapses in memory. 

3.  Confusion with Time or Place

People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often lose track of dates, season of the year, day of the week, and the passing of time.  They may lose the ability to project or hypothesize about future events.  In more severe cases, individuals may forget where they are or how they got there. 

4.  Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks

Those suffering from Alzheimer’s often lose the ability to complete tasks associated with daily life such as driving to a familiar location, balancing a checkbook, preparing meals, playing games, and following sports.  Grooming, personal hygiene, keeping house begin to deteriorate. 

5.  Challenges Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

For some, poor depth perception, inability to discriminate colors, difficulty judging distances, and difficulty reading can be signs of Alzheimer’s. 

6.  New Onset Difficulties With Words Both Spoken and Written

Persons with AD may find it hard to follow or meaningfully join conversation.  They may stop in the middle of what they are saying and have no idea how to get back on track.  Finding the right word at the right time can become more prominent.  Repertoire of words becomes smaller and smaller and the use of non-words or inaccurate words becomes more frequent. 

7.  Misplacing Items and Being Unable to Retrace Steps to Find Them

People with AD may misplace and lose things. They may put things in unusual places (car keys in the freezer for example).  At times they may accuse others of playing tricks on them or even stealing misplaced items. 

8.  Poor Judgment

Alzheimer’s can impair one’s judgment and ability to make sound decisions especially when dealing with money and risk-assessment.  Individuals may start to have difficulty interpreting social and interpersonal cues appropriately. 

9.  Social Withdrawal

People with AD often start to withdraw - whether from apathy, anxiety, or inadequacy -  from work, hobbies, sports and recreation, and social activities.  The corresponding decrease in engagement, interpersonal contact, and mental stimulation can accelerate cognitive decline. 

10. Changes in or Amplification of Personality, Mood and Behavior

Changes in personality, mood, and behavioral traits, or exaggeration of pre-existing ones, can occur early in the course of Alzheimer’s, often even before the more characteristic memory loss.  Such changes can lead to poor frustration tolerance, irritability, suspiciousness of others, depressed mood, and ill-defined apprehension and fear. 

Despite Common Thinking, Alzheimer's Can Be Delayed and Effectively Treated

For years patients, family members, and clinicians have suffered under the false belief that Alzheimer’s cannot be cured or even effectively treated.  This belief stems largely from the abysmal performance of currently available FDA-approved prescription medications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.   

As an aside, based on published scientific evidence and my own clinical experience – I still offer my patients with AD the medication best-practice combination of donepezil and memantine ER, ideally in a single pill.   

The overwhelmingly positive news about Alzheimer’s is that it can be prevented, delayed, and effectively treated with lifestyle, activity, diet, and aggressive use of specific supplements and nutraceuticals. 

Core Cognitive Supplements

In what has become one of my favorite articles published in recent months (“Reversal of cognitive decline: a novel therapeutic program”), Dr. Dale Bredesen, from the UCLA Department of Neurology, reports on a promising new approach to preserving brain function and even reversing cognitive impairment in humans.  The program is comprehensive, personalized, and consistent with our own approach to preventing early memory loss.  It includes most of the lifestyle behaviors we regularly preach as well as many of our go-to supplements and nutraceuticals. Please see the table below for a list of our core cognitive supplements. 

Core Cognitive Cocktail





Key Ingredients




L-methylfolate, methylcobalamine, NAC

1 cap per day

Lower inflammation, Reduce oxidative stress, Help build key neurotransmitters


P5P, Resveratrol, Bacopa, ginkgo, Huperzine, ALCAR, vinpocetine, phosphatidylserine

As directed on bottle

Enhance cognition, Increase SirT1 activity, Increase acetycholine

Nrf2 Pathway Activator

Turmeric, Broccoli Seed Extract, Black Pepper Extract, Pterostilbenes

As directed on bottle

Reduce A-beta accumulation, Optimize mitochondrial health, Lower inflammation, Heal and seal the gut

Super EPA Fishoil

720 mg EPA

480 mg DHA (per serving)

2 gel caps twice daily with meals

Lower inflammation, Heal and seal gut, Preserve synaptic structural integrity

Tri Flora Probiotic

Multi strain with s. boulardii

1 cap twice daily with meals

Right-size inflammation, Heal and seal gut

D3 5000

Vitamin D3

1 cap per day

Powerful neurohormone that reduces inflammation


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