How To Cope With Memory Loss
If you’re reading this, you’re either worried you are experiencing memory loss or have already been diagnosed with this condition and are wondering how to cope with memory loss. We all have moments where we forget the name of the person we just met or where we dropped our favorite pair of shoes. Moments of trivial forgetfulness like this are however not always an indicator of memory loss. These could happen probably because we didn’t pay as much attention while that person was introducing himself or while we were dropping our pair of shoes. If you experience a drop in your thinking and reasoning skills alongside frequent episodes of forgetfulness/memory loss, then suffering from memory loss should become a concern to you.
What is memory loss?
Memory loss, also referred to as amnesia, is an abnormal degree of forgetfulness, mainly characterized by the inability to recall past events, whether events from the recent or distant. Depending on the cause, memory loss may have either a sudden or gradual onset. And may be permanent or temporary.
Multiple types of memory loss exist including retrograde amnesia, anterograde amnesia, and transient global amnesia.
- Transient global amnesia is a rare, temporary, complete loss of all memory.
- Anterograde amnesia refers to the inability to remember recent events in the aftermath of a trauma. However, the ability to recollect events in the distant past remains unaltered.
- Retrograde amnesia is the inability to remember events preceding a trauma, but recall of events afterward is possible.
Some early symptoms of memory loss include
- Asking the same questions repeatedly
- Forgetting common words when speaking
- Mixing words up, for example, saying “bed” instead of “table”
- Taking longer to complete familiar tasks, such as following a recipe
- Misplacing items in inappropriate places, such as putting a wallet in a kitchen drawer
- Getting lost while walking or driving in a familiar area
- Having changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason
Causes Of Memory Loss
Although the normal aging process can result in difficulty in learning and retaining new material, normal aging itself is not a cause of significant memory loss unless there is an accompanying disease that is responsible for the memory loss.
Memory loss has multiple causes including
- Chronic medical conditions
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Mild Cognitive Impairment
- Neurodegenerative Diseases
Older patients who have difficulties with memory may have Alzheimer’s disease, or they may have another condition with similar symptoms.
What Conditions Act Like Neurodegenerative Memory Loss?
A more severe form of memory loss is Alzheimer’s disease. This is also referred to as Neurodegenerative memory loss and has been found to be a major cause of dementia. Dementia is a term used to describe a decline in mental abilities, including memory, language, and logical thinking. This condition is severe enough to affect daily living. Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia are the two common variants of dementia. However, many conditions other than Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia can affect the main systems in the body responsible for memory, language, and logical thinking.
Other conditions such as Depression, Diabetes, Urinary tract disease (UTI), Delirium, Vitamin B12 Deficiency, Vestibular Disorders, Thyroid Disease, and Lyme Disease are easily mistaken for Neurodegenerative Memory Loss.
How To Cope With Memory Loss
If your memory is not as sharp as it once was, a few simple adjustments can help you with your daily activities.
- Use lists for chores.
- Create a checklist of medications and when they should be taken. Some people find “pill sorters” helpful. You can purchase these at your local pharmacy, and they will help you remember whether or not you took your medication.
- Keep your address book and calendar up to date.
- Keep your home organized and easy to manage.
- Be socially active and engage in hobbies you enjoy.
- If your memory loss is progressing or becoming severe, make an appointment with your doctor. Ask someone you trust to go with you.
Coping With A Loved One’s Memory Loss
Watching someone you love struggle with memory loss can be difficult. Depending on the severity of their condition, there are many ways you can help.
- Encourage them to visit their doctor if their memory loss is interfering with their daily functioning. Consider accompanying them to the appointment.
- Create a checklist of their medications and when they should be taken.
- Help them update their address book and calendar.
- Help them organize their home.
- Keep important items in plain sight.
- Use sticky notes around the house as reminders of how to perform tasks.
- Encourage them to remain socially active.
- Use photographs and familiar belongings to spark memories.
- Arrange to have someone help in the home. If memory loss is severe, investigate home health care, assisted living, or nursing home options.
- Be patient. Don’t take someone else’s memory loss personally — remember that they can’t help it.
What are your thoughts on memory loss and coping mechanisms for those having to deal with this condition? We’ll love to read about them from the comment section.