Memory loss has a simple definition, but living with it can range from mild to a complete life change. To have times in your memory when you just can’t recall the information you’re searching for means that you’re forgetting what you once knew.
Sometimes these things could be what you learned in school years ago or the street name of the home you first lived in. You might have someone’s name on the tip of your tongue, but searching through the memory files of your brain yields no results.
There might be days when you brought something home but can’t recall where you put it. Many of us put stuff in a place where we just know we’ll remember to find it – and then we can’t for the life of us bring it back to mind.
Almost every person in the world at one time or another experiences times when they forget something. You know that you know the facts you’re trying to get to in your brain, but it stays out of reach.
Forgetting things and being unable to recall certain dates of events or names of people isn’t that big of a deal. But there is a line when it comes to the memory of what’s normal and what’s not. While some forgetfulness is to be expected (even at a young age) some cases of forgetfulness can signify that there’s an underlying health problem.
There are symptoms of memory loss and they can range from ordinary to the point where it’s a problem. Symptoms of normal memory loss are the inability to recall names, places or dates – but the person knows they can’t remember.
They may even be able to tell you exactly what the forgetfulness or loss is. An example or normal forgetfulness would be, “We stopped at a town in Georgia…I can’t remember the name of it!”
Another symptom of normal loss of memory would be a pause in a conversation as the brain seeks the words to say or the details to recall. More examples of normal loss would be if the person forgets things, but can function socially at the same level. As one healthcare professional said “Forgetting where you put your keys in not a big deal, but forgetting what the keys are used for is something to be concerned about.”
Forgetfulness can take on a life changing meaning when it begins to change the person with the inability to recall places or people or short-term memories. One symptom is difficulty carrying on a normal conversation.
This person appears confused by the topic and is often unable to understand what’s being discussed. Another symptom is that this type of forgetfulness appears to get steadily worse. You might notice the person begins to act in ways that are not normal for him or her. They may forget to take care of themselves physically, such as in the area of hygiene or eating.
Memory loss can be a signal that nothing out of the ordinary is going on – or it could be a sign that a serious health issue needs to be addressed. Whenever you or a loved one experiences an inability to remember things, don’t automatically assume the worst.
Just pay attention if it’s a loved one and see if it worsens. If you notice yourself beginning to forget things more frequently, heading to the doctor for a checkup might be a good idea just to get reassurance on whether your symptoms are normal or not.
In this blog post we covered what memory loss is; next week we’ll cover some of the causes of memory loss.