Compassionate, Comprehensive Care

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia - a condition that affects your memory, behavior, emotions and ability to process information. Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic ongoing disorder, which means it worsens over time, causing continuous decline of your mental abilities and limiting your ability to function independently.

The neurological experts at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center provide patient-centered, multidisciplinary care that addresses all the areas in which Alzheimer’s disease touches your life. Our team features cognitive neurologists with fellowship training in aging and dementia working alongside a network of other specialists and caregivers in associated fields to develop a treatment plan designed to address your specific care needs.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

Alzheimer’s disease is typically diagnosed in people age 65 and older. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease affects people under 65 in about 5% of all cases.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease vary according to the severity and stage of your illness. Severe memory loss that affects your daily activities is its most common sign.

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty completing basic tasks
  • Decreased judgment and inability to problem solve
  • Inability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
  • Worsening confusion and inability to process information
  • Emotional imbalance and mood swings
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Withdrawal from family and other social contact

The occasional memory lapse or moment of confusion is usually nothing to worry about, but if you or someone you care about exhibits multiple warning signs, please seek further evaluation from a cognitive neurologist.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

The experts at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center begin the diagnostic process with a thorough physical exam and medical history. Testing is done to further refine your diagnosis and rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be responsible for your symptoms.

Testing may include:

  • Bloodwork
  • Advanced neuroimaging with brain MRI to rule out reversible causes of cognitive impairment
  • Mental function tests that gauge your memory, muscle tone, thought process, speech and reflexes


Although there is no currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, medication and lifestyle changes can often reduce its impact, ease its symptoms and slow the progression of your illness.

There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The experts at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center focus on treatment that eases your symptoms, slows the progression of your disease and maintains your quality of life as long as possible.

Treatment options include:

  • Medication: prescription drugs like cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptor antagonists encourage brain cell communication and may reduce agitation and depression.
  • Lifestyle changes: behavioral strategies that help manage your condition, limit confusion and encourage focus.
  • Social work assistance: helps identify and secure needed services that provide care and support for you and your caregivers.  
  • Personal safety assessment: addresses safety issues like the ability to drive, swallow or live independently as your disease progresses.

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