Memory Loss

Memory loss woman

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

Aging is normally associated with numerous physiological and psychological complications. One common problem observed in elderly people (above 65 years of age) is “memory loss”. The degree of memory loss varies from one person to another and is often curable through proper diagnosis and therapeutic treatments. In a few cases, memory loss of serious nature occurs, which leads to serious clinical complications which are irreparable and irreversible. Although incidences of death due to memory loss are rare, chances of fatalities due to gradual degeneration of the brain cannot be totally eliminated. Hence adequate knowledge and proper care are required to handle the problem of memory loss.

 

What is memory loss?

Memory lossMemory loss refers to the inability to remember or recollect things that have happened in the recent or remote past.

It is often associated with gradual degeneration of brain neurons with age, leading to impairment and cognitive functions that lead to a decline in memory.

Normal functioning of memory includes four stages namely- information collection (from the surroundings), registration in the hippocampus (short-term memory), storage (conversion into long-term memory in the cerebral cortex), remembering (enables an individual to function on the basis of past experiences). Disruption in any of the four stages leads to memory loss conditions which might be permanent in nature.

 

Causes of memory loss

Memory loss is normally linked to old age. But there are other etiological factors behind memory loss apart from old age which are elaborated below-

  • Medications: Excess dosage of few drugs such as antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, painkillers and anti-depressants can trigger memory loss.
  • Alcohol: Excessive intake of alcohol can cause chemical changes in the brain and deficiency of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) within the body causing memory loss.
  • Stress: Stress induced by emotional triggers can cause psychogenic amnesia which makes a person forget his/her name, address, date of birth and other basic information.
  • Depression: Depression caused due to environmental, hormonal or psychological factors can slowly lead to memory loss conditions.
  • Head injury: Head injury due to mechanical trauma can cause temporary loss of memory.
  • Existing diseases: Existing diseases such as Herpes, HIV, Meningitis, Syphilis, thyroid problems etc may directly impact the brain causing partial memory loss.
  • Lack of sleep: Sleep deprivation due to insomnia, sleep apnea can induce memory loss.
  • Diet: Regular diet deficient in vitamins B1 and B12 can impact memory.

 

Questions to determine the degree of memory loss

Memory loss manSince memory loss is often confused with normal forgetfulness, hence the following questions must be asked in order to determine the seriousness of memory loss-

  • What kinds of things are being forgotten?
  • Is regular lifestyle being disrupted due to memory loss?
  • What is the frequency of memory lapse?
  • Are there symptoms of mental instability as well?
  • Is the memory loss condition getting worse?

 

Symptoms of memory loss

The symptoms of memory loss are usually noticeable in the late stages since people mostly mistake it for normal forgetfulness. The following symptoms are observed-

  • Asking the same questions repeatedly within a short span of time
  • Forgetting, misusing and jumbling up common words during conversation
  • Taking an abnormally long time to complete a routine task
  • Misplacing items frequently
  • Getting lost while traveling within a familiar place
  • Losing judgment related to normal activities, such as following directions
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Depression, anxiety, hallucinations

 

Types of memory loss

Memory loss womanNational Institute of Aging has come up with different classifications of memory loss based on different criteria. A generalized classification is done based on the degree of memory loss. This includes-

  • Normal memory loss: It occurs with age due to reduced secretion of chemicals by the brain cells. It mainly affects recent memory and not the remote memory.
  • Reversible memory loss: It is short-termed and occurs due to mechanical trauma or emotional stress. It can be cured by proper medication.
  • Permanent memory loss: It occurs due to permanent damage to brain cells due to some chronic diseases.

The next classification includes the seven common types of memory problems such as –

  • Transience: It is the act of forgetting events with time
  • Absentmindedness: It occurs due to lack of attention
  • Blocking: It refers to the short-termed inability to recapitulate something
  • Misattribution: It refers to the partial accuracy in recollecting things and improper recollection of related details
  • Suggestibility: It is a deceptive situation in which the mind seems to recollect things (on suggestions) which it has no experience at all.
  • Bias: It is the situation when an individual’s perceptions are directed by experience, beliefs, prior knowledge or mental state at a particular moment.
  • Persistence: It refers to the persistence of unpleasant memories that people cannot forget on their own accord.

The second classification is more serious and is mainly related to diseases. These are –

  • Alzheimer’s disease: It is caused due to gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and is characterized by loss of judgment, disorientation, and confusion.
  • Vascular dementia: It occurs due to obstructed blood flow to the brain causing the death of brain cells. It is marked by confusion and loss of focus.
  • Frontotemporal dementia: It affects the front and sides of the brain and is characterized by impairment in personality and social skills.
  • Lewy body dementia: It is caused by deposition of proteins called Lewy bodies inside the nerve cells within the brain. It can lead to Parkinson’s disease. It is characterized by the imbalance in movements and visual hallucinations.

 

Diagnosis

A neuropsychological examination is performed to analyze the detailed mental functioning in a memory loss patient. In addition to this, Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan are recommended to determine structural abnormalities of the brain if any.

 

Treatment and prevention

Those diagnosed with any neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia need to start their treatment as soon as possible. They might require palliative care consisting of a neurologist, psychiatrist, geriatrician etc for a holistic treatment. There is a wide range of drugs that might be prescribed to the patient (in the early to mid-stages of Alzheimer’s) such as tacrine, donepezil, or rivastigmine. Such patients also need to take care of their blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels.  In addition to medications, behavioral therapy is also an important part of the treatment protocol. It is important for such individuals to be surrounded by supportive people and have a healthy social life.

Those individuals who have a failing memory in the absence of a neurodegenerative disease, the following steps might aid them in day-to-day living:

  • Use memory aids and label things around.
  • Make use of apps and digital assistants.
  • Follow a fixed routine
  • Make use of mnemonics and flashcards.

While there are a lot of factors (genetic, environmental exposure, age etc) that can impact a person’s memory and even cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, practicing these basic steps can help improve memory:

  • Stress-related hormones such as cortisol are known to shrink the brain cells responsible for memory. Hence, in order to keep a sharp memory, one should learn how to manage stress effectively.
  • Eat brain-friendly foods such as whole grains, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids (salmon and tuna).
  • Avoid multitasking as it diminishes the brain’s capacity to retain information for a longer time.
  • Staying mentally active is an important requirement for having a sharp memory. Crossword puzzles, card games, volunteering activities, learning new skills/languages etc can help prevent memory loss.
  • Get 8-9 hours of uninterrupted night sleep every night. The human brain needs sufficient amount of REM sleep to function properly.
  • Physical exercises play an equally important role in delaying and preventing memory loss. Make sure that you get 150 minutes of healthy exercise every week.
  • If you have been diagnosed with any chronic condition such as high cholesterol or diabetes, it is important to manage these conditions well to ensure that your memory doesn’t deteriorate with time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • There are several ways one can improve memory. This includes learning a new skill and exercising regularly.
  • Seek appropriate medical help and therapy if the cause of memory loss is an emotional trauma.
  • Keep memory tools handy. Calendars, to-do lists, post-it notes and many more can help you retain information better.
Don'ts
  • Engage in arguments and heated discussions with people suffering from memory loss, especially dementia patients.
  • Keep correcting them. Speak clearly and encourage them to be a part of conversations.
  • Overburden such individuals with tasks and responsibilities they won’t be able to carry out.

 

 

 

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cytomegalovirus iGG
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)- IgG Test The cytomegalovirus IgG is the immunoglobulin protein produced by our immune system when the body is infected by…
stevia side effects
Stevia: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another risky additive? Stevia is a plant native to South America.  It has been used as a natural sugar substitute and…
PROLACTIN-(PRL)
Prolactin Test (PRL) Prolactin or PRL is a lactogenic hormone produced to induce milk production in lactating mothers. PRL test measures…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Spinach: The ultimate way to boost health with this green superfood! Spinach is a green superfood that ranks high in both taste and nutrition. Read more to discover how…
Ca 19.9 test
CA19.9 Test CA 19.9 is a cancer antigen that exists on the surface of cancer-causing cells. The levels of CA…
Top 6 remedies to treat a razor burn at home Symptoms of razor burn include bumps on the skin, redness, and irritation of the skin. Find easy and…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
top 10 deadliest diseases
What are the top 10 deadliest diseases and what is causing them? What are the largest killers of human lives across the globe? Which diseases are the most fatal ones?…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
EMG electromyography
EMG- Electromyography EMG detects the presence, location, and extent of diseases that damage the nerves such motor neuron disease. Electromyography…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
HSV-IgM test
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-IgM Test The HSV-IgM class antibody is produced by the body a few days after an initial HSV infection and…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
Turner syndrome and infertility
Infertility profile (women) The infertility profile tests in women are conducted to form a complete picture of the hormonal balance and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
complement c4 test
Complement 4 (C4) Test The Complement 4 or C4 test measures the level of the protein in the bloodstream, and is primarily…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
Echocardiogram
Echocardiography – ECHO Echocardiography (commonly known as ECHO) is an imaging modality (similar to ultrasonography) used to visualize the interior of…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
Proteinuria and blood pressure
Hypertension Profile Hypertension profile is a panel of blood tests done to analyse the cause of hypertension or high blood…
Crossfit with rope
CrossFit: Now get the perfectly sculpted body with this explosive gym routine CrossFit is a fitness regimen that makes use of high-intensity exercises in a shorter period to achieve muscle…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
free thyroxine ft4
Free thyroxine test (FT4) The FT4 or free thyroxine test is used to detect the level of free thyroxine of FT4 thyroid…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
cytomegalovirus igm test
Cytomegalo Virus (CMV) – IgM Test The CMV antibodies include both IgM and IgG antibodies which are the immune system's response to a CMV…
folate test
Folate test The Folate test measures and monitors the levels of folic acid in the blood. This test is also…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) –IgG Test The cardiolipin antibody IgG are responsible for the abnormal formation of clots in veins and arteries or phlebitis…
lipoprotein A
Lipoprotein (A) Test Lipoprotein (A) test is used to measure and monitor the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the bloodstream in…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Anti-Inflammatory foods: 18 foods to a disease-free you Anti-inflammatory foods are the foods which are known to reduce the inflammation as well as the pain from…

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