Memory impairment is when you’re unable to remember things that you should be able to remember—it’s unusual forgetfulness that affects your daily life.
This contrasts with mild cognitive impairment, which is simply a part of aging for older adults. For example, you might misplace your keys, only to find them later, or you might forget an appointment every now and then, but you generally remember them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, serious memory problems can be caused by certain medical conditions and can have a variety of causes, including:
- Minor head injury or trauma
- Emotional disorders
- Drug addiction
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Brain diseases
- Different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
All of these issues or conditions can affect memory. These causes can result in everything from temporary memory loss or cognitive problems to severe, long-term memory loss that inhibits your ability to take care of yourself.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are also a variety of signs of severe memory loss, including:
- Asking the same questions repeatedly
- Forgetting common words when speaking
- Mixing words up
- Taking longer to complete familiar tasks
- Misplacing items in inappropriate places
- Getting lost while walking or driving in a familiar area
- Having changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason
This is different from mild memory loss or mild cognitive impairment, conditions that do not inhibit your ability to take care of yourself but nevertheless affect your life in small ways. This must be contrasted with normal declines in memory and cognitive function as a part of aging to be sure you are suffering from a condition that is abnormal.
Some of the most common causes of severe memory loss and decreased cognitive functioning include dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s
According to the National Institute on Aging, dementia is an umbrella term that includes Alzheimer’s but that can also include other types of dementia, like vascular dementia or Lewy Body dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, which provides health information on all types of memory-related problems, the signs of dementia include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
As you can see, the signs of dementia are extremely similar to memory loss in general. The signs of Alzheimer’s are generally the same and affect cognitive functioning similarly. For many who suffer from memory loss, they’re often not aware of these changes—they’re usually noted instead by a family member or friend.
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Do you or a family member suffer from Alzheimer’s disease? Are you interested in participating in a clinical trial? We have a wide variety of clinical trials available for Alzheimer’s disease. You or your loved one may qualify if specific criteria are met.