Memory loss and dementia

Recently I have written a lot of blogs about what is means from a personal perspective to lose ones memory or ability to recall, so thought I’d add a simple explanation of memory loss in dementia, from the Alzheimer’s Australia website.

“One of the main symptoms of dementia is memory loss. We all forget things from time to time, but the loss of memory with dementia is very different. It is persistent and progressive, not just occasional. It may affect the ability to continue to work, or carry out familiar tasks. It may mean having difficulty finding the way home. Eventually it may mean forgetting how to dress or how to bathe. An example of normal forgetfulness is walking into the kitchen and forgetting what you went in there for, or misplacing the car keys. A person with dementia however, may lose the car keys and then forget what they are used for.

Key points about normal forgetfulness

• As we get older, the most common change that we complain about is memory change

• Memory change with healthy ageing certainly doesn’t interfere with everyday life in a dramatic way

• Everyone is different, and the effect of getting older on memory is different for each person

• Recent research describes the effect of getting older on attention processes, on the ability to get new information into storage, on the time it takes to recall things and “on the tip of the tongue” experiences

• Research also suggests that immediate memory and lifetime memory do not change as we get older”

(Alzheimer’s Australia)

One thought on “Memory loss and dementia

  1. What I”m going to say isn’t applicable to everyone with dementia, but I”ll just put something down just for the purposes of introducing it into the conversation ………

    Memory is broken down into 2 parts – long term and short term.

    Generally, a person with dementia will retain a certain part of their long-term memory. I have retained a memory for faces and names of many people I knew before encephalitis, for example, but don’t remember things like what I did at school or vacations etc.

    I have very bad memory retrieval but with practice I can learn something. For example, I can be doing something, leave a room and 10 seconds later in another room if you ask me what I was doing I probably can’t remember what I was doing when I was in my room. But if you give me a hint then I’ll remember it – it’s the retrieval which I have problems with. But then 1 hour later I’ll have forgotten most of it anyway.

    So the main thing I wanted to add was the fact that there is short term and long term and many with dementia often remember their long term memories – tha’s why nursing homes play the old songs of when the residents were 20 years old – because they’re likely to remember those songs.


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