Do you find it difficult to recall things? Some people lose track of names they have recently learned or where they left the keys. Is forgetting normal or is there really something to be concerned about? Imagine your mind as an empty room, and then think what it would be like if it restored every piece of information you encounter. Open the door after a few days, and your mind will appear to be a storeroom full of facts, figures, and information. Remember that a normal degree of forgetting is normal and essential too—for getting rid of the information you don’t use frequently or don’t need any longer and leaving behind the knowledge needed for the required future. Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and excessive alcohol consumption can all temporarily affect memory.
Common Memory Issues
There are 3 types of memory: sensory memory, short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM). The three stages of memory processing are typically encoding, storage, and retrieval. Any disruption during these phases can cause memory loss. When an individual is not paying enough attention or fails to reinforce the information by retrieving it, information may be forgotten. This may occur when a memory that was learned more recently interferes with an earlier memory. For instance, when you’re unable to recall your new phone number.
Aging is often accompanied by a decline in episodic and working memory, which can lead to problems such as forgetting what day it is or where you left your glasses. Procedural or semantic memory (facts / social knowledge) are less likely to be affected by normal ageing. Serious memory loss, however, can manifest as infantile amnesia, retrograde amnesia, or anterograde amnesia (dementia / Alzheimer’s disease).
Memory Construction in Early Childhood
Typically, people do not remember much that happened before the age of 3. This condition is called infantile amnesia. Investigation reveals that remembering some event from infancy is not a genuine memory (perspective as seen from own eyes) but is really based on what family members have told the person about the event. This is due to the fact that explicit memory (a conscious form of memory) does not fully develop until after age 2 or so. Katherine Nelson
(1993) asserts that children can develop autobiographical memory only when they can discuss shared memories with adults.
Retrograde amnesia is memory loss from the point of a brain injury backward, i.e, when a person is unable to recall the time before the accident. On the other hand people with anterograde amnesia have difficulty remembering anything new (the loss of memory from the point of injury forwards). Dementia patients may suffer from retrograde amnesia in addition to anterograde amnesia.
One of the most prevalent types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly 1 in 9 people over the age of 65 (Alzheimer’s Association, 2015). The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who in 1906 had observed a woman dying of an unusual mental illness. Memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior were her primary symptoms.
The early signs of Alzheimer’s disease include cognitive decline such as difficulty speaking clearly, visual or spatial problems, and impairment in reasoning. The symptoms start out mild, but over time, the memory deteriorates. Eventually, forgetting leads to dangerous mistakes like taking extra doses of medication. Past memories start to disappear as the illness worsens.
Mild Memory Loss Strategies
As was mentioned, memory loss interferes with a person’s day-to-day activities. For people with memory loss, daily routine activities like remembering the address, paying bills, or driving can become challenging or even unsafe. Having trouble remembering things can make one feel frustrated and embarrassed. People might become anxious about forgetting crucial information or not recognising their loved ones. Memory loss can create distance in relationships when the patient forgets the past and the connections to family and friends. Carers often have to bear heavy emotional and financial burdens while caring for a loved one who is gradually drifting away from them.
When memory loss is mild, maintaining memory can be aided by leading a healthy lifestyle and engaging in mentally stimulating activities like word games, puzzles, and learning new skills. Medication and therapy may help in some severe cases. But most importantly, there is a need for fostering a supportive environment and receiving emotional support from friends and family.
There are resources and support available if you or someone you know is showing signs of memory loss. You are not alone! We hope you found this article to be informative and helpful.