From time to time, we all have moments where we forget things. But as we age and forgetfulness and memory loss become more prevalent, it is often hard to distinguish what’s normal and what’s not.
Emerest’s Nursing Director, Lauren Weissberg, put together a list of tips and suggestions that can help you better understand memory loss and the steps you should take if you have concerns.
Two Types of Memory
Memory is categorized as either “short-term” or “long-term.” Both types of memory affect the ability to recall information but present it differently.
Short-term memory. Short-term memory is information that is retained for a short period of time and is ready to be used immediately. Remembering a telephone number and dialing it right away is an example of short-term memory use.
Long-term memory. Long-term memory is information that is held indefinitely and can be recalled and used after long periods of time. Remembering your best friend’s birthday after 25 years of friendship is an example of long-term memory
Reasons for Memory Loss
The cause of memory loss can vary from mild cognitive impairment to dementia, which is more severe and involves impairment in multiple aspects of mental ability. Both short-term and long-term memory can be affected by either form of impairment, depending on where the problem lies. There could be many reasons for memory loss. The most common causes are:
- Thyroid Disorders
- Alcohol/Smoking/Drug Use
- Stroke • Head injury
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Sleep Deprivation
- Infections of the Brain
What Is Normal and What Is Not
Sometimes it’s hard to decipher between what is to be expected regarding memory loss and what is not. However, any type of memory loss that interferes with daily activities or prevents you from living a productive life is not normal. If you’re wondering how “normal” your memory loss symptoms are, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I forgetting a few details of a conversation or the entire conversation?
- How is memory loss affecting my daily activities?
- How long have I been experiencing memory loss—have I been this way most of my adult life, or has it just started happening?
When to See a Doctor
Memory loss can often be a symptom of a medical condition. In instances like that, memory loss will likely improve as the condition you’re being treated for improves. However, if you start to notice that you’re forgetting things more often than usual and don’t have any underlying medical issues, you should see your doctor. Signs that your memory loss is not normal include:
- Asking the same question repeatedly
- Mismatching common words such as calling a “couch” a “table”
- Misplacing everyday items, such as putting your wallet in the bathroom
- Getting lost walking or driving in a familiar area
- Taking longer than usual to complete step by step tasks, such as following a recipe
- Having random changes in mood or behavior for no reason.
When Your Memory Loss Is Affecting Your Life
If you find that memory loss is affecting your ability to carry out your everyday routines, you should see your doctor.
“It is often helpful to bring a family member or close friend to the doctor’s visit. Not only is the support from a loved one helpful, but the family member can describe what they have seen and compare it to your recollection.” – Lauren Weissberg, Nursing Director.
How We Can Help
Emerest Connect offers specialized telehealth services, so our clients get the care they deserve in the comfort of their own homes. To learn more about telehealth or other services Emerest offers, visit us today at www.emerestconnect.com.