Of all the cognitive problems, memory loss is the symptom that usually shows up first.
Short-term memory is the first to go and manifests itself, for example, in forgetting where something was laid, forgetting appointments, or other tasks that involve short-term memory. Some short-term memory loss is normal. We all forget where we put our keys or the name of someone we just met, on occasion, but when these lapses become more common or more severe in nature, then it is time to have them checked out by a health professional.
Patients with Alzheimer’s often fill in the missing parts of their memory with what they think should be there. This technique, called confabulation, can work to mask the disease for a while, but eventually people close to the person with Alzheimer’s realize that they don’t remember and are making up a lot of what they are saying.
People with Alzheimer’s can forget important things like putting food on the stove and only be reminded when the house fills with smoke.
As the disease progresses, longer-term memories are lost, eventually leading to inability to recognize even loved ones.