If Memory Serves…or Doesn’t: Dealing With Memory Loss

A loss of memory can certainly be frustrating, especially if it is hindering your ability to complete simple and/or complex tasks. If you find yourself being forgetful from time to time it may be a minor annoyance.

However, when you start to notice that you are dealing with a decline in memory, it might be time to take action. Just because you are dealing with a memory issue, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have Alzheimer’s. You may find it helpful to gain a basic understanding of how memory works.

Your Memory at a Glance

Memory Loss

Nerve cells in your brain, or neurons, communicate by way of synaptic connections, the structures responsible for passing signals between neurons.

This communication through synapses is facilitated when specific chemicals in your brain, called neurotransmitters, are present.

When this connection is persistently strengthening between your neurons it is called long-term potentiation. It is possible that memories can be allowed to form when this strength is maintained between these connections.

Likewise, when the strength of one of these connections diminishes then it may result in a loss of memory.

Possible Causes of Memory Loss

If you are experiencing memory loss there can be a number of causes responsible such as aging, mild cognitive impairment, emotional problems, or certain medical conditions.

Certain medical conditions may result in memory issues. Once treated you might find that these problems should go away. Some medical conditions which can impact your memory are:

  • Blood clots, infections, or tumors in your brain

  • Alcoholism (chronic)

  • Side effects of certain medications

  • Some kidney, liver, or thyroid disorders

  • Head injury including concussions from falls or accidents

  • Lack of healthy foods in your diet or low amounts of minerals and vitamins in your body

You should seek the advice of your doctor for treatment of medical conditions such as these.

As you age you may experience normal forgetfulness. You may find that as you get older your body is undergoing changes. These changes will most likely also occur in your brain. Memory problems that are age-related can include taking longer to learn something new, trouble recalling information as well as you used to, or even losing track of objects. These are usually an indication of mild forgetfulness and not serious memory issues.

Emotional problems may also trigger forgetfulness and/or confusion. This can be as a result of high levels of anxiety, stress, or depression. At times this may even present as dementia-like symptoms. You should notice that once emotional problems are eased then the symptoms should go away.

Steps to Help With Your Memory Loss

A good restful sleep can go a long way. You should make sure that you are getting enough sleep to ensure both your physical and mental health. During sleep, your body and brain should experience restoration from all that you have done throughout the day. One component of this should be the consolidation of memories. This consolidation can be described as the process through which neural connections are strengthened.

You should treat your brain like the rest of your body and make sure that it is getting regular exercise. Being mentally active can have significant benefits when it comes to making sure that your memory stays sharp. You can try taking alternate routes when driving, do crossword puzzles, or even learn to play an instrument in an effort to stimulate mental activity.

Organization should also help your memory. You may find that writing down appointments, tasks or other events in an organizer or notebook can be helpful. If you repeat the entries as you are writing them it may even help make better connections in your memory. You may also benefit from having physical storage to help with organization of your home such as filing cabinets, trays that separate objects in drawers, key hooks, and even pill organizers.

When it comes to medications that you need to take, forgetfulness can be costly. A good pill organizer can ensure that you are taking the correct dosage of medication at the right time. Plus they are convenient, save time, and cut down on having to carry multiple bottles of medication if you are traveling.

Staying social is another way that you can ward off emotional pitfalls such as depression or stress, which can both contribute to potential memory loss. Try to find opportunities to get together with friends and family, as well as others, especially if you happen to live alone. This can also strengthen your support system so that if you do experience emotional issues, you have people you can turn to. This can be a key in easing emotional stress down the line.

You should always consult a physician in order to get proper diagnosis or treatment for any physical or mental condition.