Memory loss will affect us all at some point in our lives. Most commonly associated with old age, the idea of losing our ability to recall events, conversations or details from our own lives is a scary prospect. However memory loss is also something which many people experience during the course of their lives and may not even realise they are suffering with.
By its very nature, memory loss is not always immediately identifiable. There are many other conditions which present with symptoms which can either make us forgetful or mimic memory loss; such as confusion, memory loss or lack of judgement. However memory loss can be in and of itself an issue, as well as possibly being symptomatic of another problem. For this reason alone it’s important that memory loss is identified as soon as possible, to prevent its worsening and hopefully find a solution.
The Symptoms of Memory Loss
Memory loss can manifest in various ways and negatively affect the lives of both the sufferer and the people around them. Identifying specific memory loss symptoms can point directly to the cause of the memory loss, however there are some symptoms which are more generalised and will be experienced by the majority of people suffering with memory loss of any kind. These include:
- Forgetting or misplacing items, such as your keys, wallet or purse, that you would normally be able to easily locate.
- Missing appointments or meetings, or experiencing decreased punctuality.
- Forgetting conversations, or repeatedly asking questions.
- Being unable to recall memories or form new ones.
The memory loss symptoms can present as a result of various contributing factors, which may or may not include head trauma, mental health problems or other illness, or old age. However determining the precise cause of the symptoms will often rely on identifying other memory loss symptoms, and taking into account any other contributing factors – such as age.
For example, with a person suffering from dementia, memory loss symptoms may also include:
- Decreased language skills (i.e. interchangeable or forgotten words).
- Decreased cognitive functions (i.e. impaired judgement or inability to perform basic calculations).
- A change in personality which may manifest in over-emotional or uncontrollably emotional behaviour.
These two short lists are just a few examples of the different types of memory loss symptoms which a person may experience and how they can differ according to causation. Causes of memory loss in the elderly will usually present with markedly different specificities than those of memory loss in otherwise fit, healthy or young people; it’s important, therefore, to always take into account environmental factors when assessing the potential causes of memory loss in yourself or another.
Coping with Memory Loss
We all experience memory loss at various points in our lives, whether it’s walking from one room to another and forgetting why you’re there, or forgetting the name of a person you just met five minutes previously. These types of memory lapse are just a part of the brain’s normal functioning and not an immediate cause for alarm. However when memory loss directly impacts upon our day-to-day lives in a way which causes inconvenience, stress or distress, it’s time to seek help. And not only can memory loss be difficult to deal with, it can also be symptomatic of something more serious which will need treating by a doctor.
There are many resources available for people struggling to cope with memory loss, either in themselves or in a loved one, such as MIND – the Mental Health Charity.
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