How to realize that it is deteriorating?

Forgetting things is a frequent mental stumbling block among people that should not necessarily arouse concern or alarm. Nevertheless, There are specific situations in which memory loss can be a symptom of a neurological or psychological medical complication.

The National Institute on Aging in the United States warns that there are many people who worry that they are losing their memory, because they think it may be the first signs of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

This institution emphasizes that the ability to remember facts, names and different types of information is lost with age. Although there are older adults who stop remembering things with the same precision as before, in most cases it is a natural process that does not pose health risks.

“Some older adults also find that they do not perform as well as younger people when completing complex memory or learning tests. But scientists have found that given enough time, healthy older people can perform just as well as younger people on these tests.”, assures the National Institute of Aging.

It is even known that, over the years, people can improve specific mental skills such as the breadth of vocabulary.

Nevertheless, the difference between a simple oversight and a true memory problem can be identified when it is a persistent situation.

The United States has given the green light to a new drug to treat Alzheimer's.
With the passage of age, memory loss is more frequent. – Photo: Getty Images / Pamela Joe McFarlane

The MedlinePlus virtual health encyclopedia, powered by the United States National Library of Medicine, warns that people affected by this condition are sometimes unable to remember events that happened recently or lose memories of the more distant past.

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“Memory loss can be present for a short time and then resolve (transient). Or it may not go away, and depending on the cause, it may get worse over time. In severe cases, such memory impairment can interfere with activities of daily living,” explains MedlinePlus.

An older adult has been waiting for help for his wife with Alzheimer's for 12 years (reference image).
People with severe cases of memory loss may lose the ability to remember new or past events. – Photo: Getty Images / Pascal Deloche

If there is persistence in the symptoms, the best way to clear up doubts is to consult the difficulties that a patient is having with a medical professional. At the consultation, MedlinePlus indicates, questions about family history, substance and medication use, and severity of episodes will be addressed. It is not the same for a person to forget where they left their keys as to have the names of family members or close friends erased.

Likewise, blood tests can be performed (to identify the levels of vitamin B12 and the thyroid), cognitive and psychological tests.

Diseases that can cause memory loss

There are a wide variety of health disorders and conditions that can cause difficulties in storing memories.

Some conditions do not have a major impact on people’s quality of life, such as mild cognitive impairment.

“People affected with this disorder have more memory problems than people their age normally have, but their symptoms are not as severe as those of people affected with Alzheimer’s disease, and they have the ability to carry out their normal daily activities”, maintains the National Institute of Aging.

But in turn, memory loss can be associated with a more serious health complication such as dementia, which is generally characterized by a progressive deterioration of mental faculties that profoundly interferes with patients’ quality of life.

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Generally, when memory loss is most severe, it is related to Alzheimer’s and other serious diseases and conditions such as brain tumors, hydrocephalus or a brain infection.

Memory loss can result from brain injury, so they called for caution to be taken when signs of a similar situation occur.
Persistent memory loss warrants a visit to the doctor. – Photo: Getty Images

It can also be generated by some drugs that are given in the midst of specific treatments, such as radiotherapy practiced in the brain, bone marrow transplants and chemotherapies, key for cancer patients.

Other possible causes They may be related to psychological effects resulting from suffering a severe traumatic event or presenting a bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression.

Scientific evidence also shows that there are behaviors that can increase the risk of presenting memory impairments, with the consumption of alcohol, the use of cigarettes and the abuse of some medications.

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