Signs & Symptoms

Many of the first signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be confused with normal aging.1 Because of this, it’s important to keep an open dialogue with your healthcare provider about any changes in your memory and everyday function.

Identifying and taking note of any changes in memory, function or behavior are important first steps. Some of the most common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are listed below. If any of these sound familiar, it may be time to take note. 

For additional information about Alzheimer’s disease, you can find links and contact information for patients groups here.

Increasing challenges with memory and difficulty with everyday tasks

Signs to watch out for include forgetting information you recently learned, asking the same questions repeatedly and depending on reminder notes to jog your memory more than you once did.2,4

Take note of things like struggling to follow a recipe you know by heart or forgetting the rules of your favorite game.

Struggling to find the right word or have conversations?

Basic vocabulary mistakes and calling things by the wrong name may occur more frequently for people with the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.2

Repeating oneself, as well as stopping mid-conversation without knowing how to continue, may be behaviors you should ask your healthcare provider about.2

Confusion with time or place and getting lost

For example, getting turned around when driving somewhere new is not necessarily cause for concern. But getting lost on the way to a familiar spot, like your favorite coffee shop that you visit every day, or suddenly forgetting where you are or how you got there, are behaviors to watch out for and discuss with your healthcare provider.2,4

Trouble managing money or paying bills

If managing finances always came easily and you now find yourself not paying or losing track of monthly bills, having difficulty balancing a checkbook or making poor financial decisions, you may want to take note.2,4 These behaviors may be associated with the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.2,4

Changes in mood, personality or judgment

Getting upset more frequently and feeling confused, suspicious, depressed, scared, or anxious might be an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.2,4 Take note of things like avoiding social activities, hobbies, work projects or sports you previously enjoyed.2,4 

Alzheimer's disease-related lapses in judgment might also relate to personal hygiene and appearance, like showering less frequently or dressing inappropriately for the weather.2

Misplacing Things

Everyone misplaces things sometimes, but losing things and not being able to retrace your steps to find them, or putting things in unusual places are behaviors often experienced by people with early Alzheimer's disease.2,4 

Some people with Alzheimer's disease may accuse others of stealing things they cannot find. If you notice this behavior in yourself, it may be time to take note and speak with your healthcare provider. 

What Should I Do Now?

Talking to a doctor about concerns you have about yourself or a loved one is important. They can help you determine what next steps are best.

Researchers around the world are working to discover medicines that may slow, stop or reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease. One option you may want to consider is participating in this research. There are many clinical research studies happening now. Biogen is currently conducting clinical studies in early Alzheimer's disease.

If you're interested in learning more, this brief online screener may be a helpful next step.


  1. Alzheimer's Association. What Is Alzheimer's? Available at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  2. Alzheimer's Association. Know The 10 Signs. Available at http://alz.org/10-signs-symptoms-alzheimers-dementia.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  3. Alzheimer's Association. Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. Available at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_diagnosis.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  4. National Institute of Health. National Institute on Aging. About Alzheimer's Disease: Symptoms. https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/symptoms. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  5. National Institute of Health. National Institute on Aging. About Alzheimer's Disease: Alzheimer's Basics. Available at https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/alzheimers-basics. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  6. National Institute of Health. National Institute on Aging. Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery. Available at https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/part-2-what-happens-brain-ad/changing-brain-ad#other-early-signs. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  7. Alzheimer's Association. What We Know Today About Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. Available at http://www.alz.org/research/science/alzheimers_research.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  8. Alzheimer's Association. Stages of Alzheimer's. Available at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  9. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Available at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/nervous_system_disorders/early-onset_alzheimers_disease_134,63/.  Accessed August 8, 2016.
  10. Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer’s Myths. Available at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_myths_about_alzheimers.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  11. Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials – Myths vs. Facts. Available at http://www.alz.org/research/clinical_trials/myth_vs_fact.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.
  12. Alzheimer's Association. Current Treatments. http://www.alz.org/research/science/alzheimers_disease_treatments.asp. Accessed August 8, 2016.