Facebook Pixel

The Basics of Memory Loss

By HERWriter
Rate This
Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Some people are better at remembering certain things than others, and memory can fluctuate depending on outside factors. However, it’s important to know the basics of memory loss in order to keep your memory at its best, and to recognize when any memory issues should be of concern.

If you have memory loss, it is generally considered to be an abnormal amount of forgetfulness, according to the MedlinePlus website, which is provided by the National Institutes of Health. General symptoms of memory loss include forgetting recent events, inability to remember some events that happened in the past, or having issues remembering both new and old events.

The National Institute on Aging website states that some memory issues associated with aging include forgetting some information, misplacing objects and taking longer to learn new information.

For many people, memory loss is associated with aging and the well-known brain disease known as Alzheimer’s disease. However, one article on MyHealthBridge.com, a senior care blog, suggests that some forms of memory loss are a normal part of the aging process and shouldn’t be blown out of proportion.

For example, the article states that “occasionally forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later,” is nothing to worry about necessarily. You should become more concerned if your memory loss is starting to disrupt your daily life, you’re getting confused about where you are, and have issues finishing familiar tasks, among other warning signs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

General causes of memory loss include drinking alcohol and using drugs, brain growths, brain infections, cancer treatments, brain surgery, dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), medication, seizures, depression and other mental disorders, electroconvulsive therapy, epilepsy, head trauma and injury, migraine headaches, concussion, nutritional deficiencies and damage or injury to the brain, according to MedlinePlus.

In order to evaluate the duration of memory loss, and how sudden the memory loss is, it’s necessary to look into the causes of loss of memory.

Memory loss can also be more specifically categorized by the terms transient global amnesia, anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia, according to an article on MedicineNet.com. There are other types of memory loss as well, but anterograde and retrograde amnesia are associated with trauma. Transient global amnesia is a more rare and temporary condition where a person loses all of his or her memory.

Different types of memory can be lost as well, depending on the cause. There is short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory refers to information that people are thinking of at this moment and are actively presented with, according to an article on About.com.

For example, if you work in data entry, you have to input a lot of numbers into a system, but you only usually remember the numbers until you’ve already typed them, since there is no need to remember them afterward.

Long-term memory refers to information that is stored over time and can be used when it’s necessary, and there are different types of long-term memory. For example, once you learn how to ride a bike, it’s stored into your long-term memory.


National Institutes of Health. Memory loss. Memory loss: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Web. October 11, 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003257.htm

National Institute on Aging. Forgetfulness: Knowing when to ask for help. Age Page: Forgetfulness: Knowing When To Ask For Help. Web. October 11, 2011. http://www.nia.nih.gov/healthinformation/publications/forgetfulness.htm

Johnson, Matt. 5 Signs that You Don’t Have Alzheimer’s Disease. HealthBridge. Web. October 11, 2011.

Alzheimer’s Association. 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s Association – 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s. Web. October 11, 2011. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp

MedicineNet.com. Memory Loss Symptoms. Memory Loss: Check Your Symptoms and Signs With the Symptom Checker by MedicineNet.com. Web. October 11, 2011.

Reviewed October 12, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.