Memory

A loss of memory is common as you age but in some cases, it can be the sign of a serious condition such as dementia. But memory loss occurs for many other reasons such as stress, anxiety, underactive thyroid or as a side effect of certain medications.

Memory loss or problems with remembering certain things is distressing but we provide counselling, screening and support to help you deal with this.

Memory loss is more common in people over 65 which is one of several signs of the ageing process. But most of these cases are not dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Types of memory

We have three types of memory:

  • Instant or immediate
  • Short term
  • Long term

Immediate memory is where something is stored for only a few seconds in the brain.

Short term memory describes the ability to store small chunks of information, for example, PIN numbers or passwords. We can retain up to 7 items in our short term memory.

Long term memory refers to memories which are stored for a long period of time. This occurs due to repeated recall of them which helps them to stick in your mind.

Memory loss

The medical name for this is amnesia. It occurs when someone notices that they have become forgetful or is unable to recall something that happened only a few moments ago. This process may have started recently or has worsened over a period of time.

Memory loss often occurs as a result of anxiety or depression. This results in a lack of interest or an inability to concentrate which is often accompanied by insomnia. This often results in forgetfulness or problems with recalling information.

Other causes include head injury, alcoholism, Vitamin B1 deficiency and a brain tumour.

Managing memory loss

There are a few things you can do to help you cope with a poor memory. Make a list each time you go shopping: write things down and use Post-it notes if necessary. Keep your purse/wallet, car keys and other items in the same place.

Use a diary or calendar to help remind you of events. Ask someone to repeat something and say this back to you a couple of times.