Many adults experience some memory loss at some point in their lives. However, memory loss is most common in seniors, and it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying disease. Not all loss in memory signifies that someone has dementia, though.
When Memory Loss Is Normal
Mild loss of memory is normal for most older adults. This is because, as we age, our brains change and may diminish in terms of memory. This can affect both long-term memory, which refers to how we recall memories from our pasts, and short-term memory, which refers to information we learned just minutes or days ago.
Some normal cases of memory loss include forgetting where an object was placed, forgetting about the time of an upcoming appointment, or forgetting the name of someone you knew many years ago. These things generally do not affect your ability to perform daily tasks and, therefore, should not be cause for worry.
When Memory Loss Is Not Normal
A good rule of thumb to determine when memory loss is not normal is when the loss affects your daily living. For example, while occasionally forgetting where your keys were placed is normal, repeatedly asking someone else where your keys are multiple times within an hour is not.
Other examples of memory loss that should be concerning include:
- Forgetting the names of common objects, such as a table
- Taking excess time to complete familiar tasks, such as cooking
- Placing items in odd places, such as a spoon in a dresser drawer
- Becoming lost while walking or driving in familiar surroundings
Possible Causes of Memory Loss
While dementia is one cause of memory loss, particularly in older adults, there are other common causes too. These causes include mild cognitive impairment, certain medications, emotional disorders, head injuries, alcoholism, hypothyroidism, sleep disorders, brain tumors and vitamin B-12 deficiencies.
To determine why you may be experiencing memory loss, you should consult a doctor who can administer relative tests. Typically, a doctor will also ask you questions about your memory loss and its impact on your daily life. It’s helpful to bring a family member or close friend who can assist with answers to some questions you might have difficulty recalling.
Loss in Memory and Dementia
Dementia is typically categorized by memory loss, but it usually includes signs of other cognitive impairments too. For example, mood and behavior changes, in combination with memory changes, are signs of this disease and can contribute to its diagnosis.
Dementia is a progressed form of mild cognitive impairment, and mild cognitive impairments can also affect memory. Although more research is needed to create a cure for mild cognitive impairments, certain experimental treatment options may be available to help seniors prevent these impairments from progressing.
Many people tend to confuse dementia with Alzheimer’s disease; however, it’s important to understand that Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. Dementia itself is a category of diseases that affect cognitive functions and memory. Other types of dementia include vascular, frontotemporal, Lewy body and mixed dementia.
If you experience memory loss that affects your daily life, consider asking for help. You can always get assistance in a senior community that provides special programs, services and activities that support memory care, such as The Buckingham in Houston. To learn more about The Buckingham, visit the website or call (713) 979-3777 to speak with a team member.