“Gosh, I just met the most interesting person last night, and I can’t remember her name. I’m really worried. Lately, I’m having trouble remembering things.” Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you’re probably worried about your memory. The good news is that memory loss is very common as a person gets older.
Psychologists recognize that there are three levels of memory: immediate memory, recent memory, and remote memory. Immediate memory refers to remembering such things as names, dates, etc. within seconds of hearing them. Recent memory involves the ability to learn and retrieve information for minutes, hours, or days, such as remembering the names and faces that you have met very recently. Remote memory is the ability to recall happenings of years ago, such as detailed matters. Most healthy older adults lose their memory for recent matters, but still retain their memory for things that have happened years prior to the present.
It may be well worth knowing that recent memory loss can begin as early as age thirty-five. This process worsens very slowly in the following decades.
Some people who have the above mentioned types of memory loss may worry that they have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. To ease your worries, people who have either of these two diseases have more than memory loss. People who have dementia or Alzheimer’s have more serious problems. They can have forgetfulness, poor judgment, confusion, easily lost, or unable to take care of themselves. Now knowing these facts should make you feel better as to your worries about having dementia.
It is also important to know that as we age, although we forget names, etc., if we are not demented, most of the forgotten information is still stored, therefore it can be retrieved.
Many people believe that because they have simple memory loss for names and other minor memory problems that they will eventually reach the demented stage. Studies have shown that adults with simple memory loss do not necessarily become demented more frequently or die sooner than other persons of the same age.
There could be a reason or reasons for calling your doctor for the following:
You have one or more episodes of total loss of memory for any recent event or situation.
You get lost when you are driving or walking to a familiar place.
You are driving on the wrong side of the road.
You forget how to use your microwave oven.
Your loss of memory is causing you difficulty at work.
A great idea for minor loss of memory is to record names, places, etc. on a tape recorder. You can also use a notebook to record recent names of people and places.
The most important fact to remember is that it takes major changes in your memory to realize that you have a severe problem, so go on with your life with your minor changes, and enjoy life!!!
Source: The Dartmouth Institute for Better Health, The Dartmouth Medical School