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Information is stored in different parts of your memory, where information stored in the short-term memory may include the name of a person you met moments ago and information stored in the recent memory may include what you ate for breakfast.

Information stored in the remote memory includes things that you stored in your memory years ago, memories of childhood for example. Beginning when person is in their twenties, he or she begins to lose brain cells a few at a time. The body also starts making less of the chemicals that the brain cells need to work. The older that person gets, the more these changes can affect his or her memory. Aging may affect memory by changing the way the brain stores information and by making it harder to recall stored information. There are also disorders that cause memory loss, but what does it all mean?

What does memory loss mean?

Short-term and remote memories are not usually affected by aging. However, recent memory may be affected since a person may forget names of people he or she met recently. These are normal changes that affect everyone. It is more important to know how to recognize if memory loss problems are serious or not. Each memory problem that affects daily living is serious. If you sometimes forget names, you are probably okay, but you may have a more serious problem if you have trouble remembering how to do things you have done many times before. It is also serious if you forget how to get to a place you have been to often, or doing things that use steps, like following a recipe. Another difference between normal memory problems and dementia is that normal memory loss does not get much worse over time and dementia gets much worse over several months to several years. It may be hard to figure out on your own if you have a serious problem; it would be the best to talk to your family doctor about any concerns you have. Your doctor may be able to help you if your memory problems are caused by a medicine you are taking or by depression you might have.

How does Alzheimer's disease change memory?

Alzheimer's disease starts by changing a person's recent memory. At the beginning, a person with Alzheimer's disease will remember even small details of his or her distant past. However, they will not be able to remember recent events or conversations. Over time, the disease affects all parts of their memory.

What is dementia?

Dementia is not a specific disease but it is a descriptive term for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders. Off course, all of these disorders affect the brain somehow. People with dementia have significantly impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal life. A problem occurs when dementia starts affecting their normal activities and relationships. They also lose their ability to solve problems and maintain emotional control. They may also experience personality changes and behavioral problems, such as agitation, delusions, or hallucinations. While memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, memory loss by itself does not mean that a person has the disorder called dementia. Doctors diagnose dementia only if two or more brain functions are impaired, and those are usually memory and language skills. These skills are significantly impaired without loss of consciousness.  Some of the diseases that can cause symptoms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. 
Doctors have identified other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. This includes reactions to medications, metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, infections, poisoning, brain tumors, heart and lung problems, and anoxia or hypoxia. These are conditions in which the brain’s oxygen supply is either reduced or cut off entirely. Although it is common in elderly individuals, dementia is not a normal part of the aging process as some people might think.

Is there any treatment for this type of memory loss?

Drugs to specifically treat Alzheimer’s disease and some other progressive dementias are now available on the market.  Although these drugs do not halt the disease or reverse existing brain damage, they can improve a patient's symptoms. These medications are also able to slow the progression of the disease. This may improve an individual’s quality of life, and ease the burden on caregivers. It is a good solution because it could also delay admission to a nursing home. Many researchers want to examine whether these drugs may be useful for treating other types of dementia.  Many people with dementia especially those in the early stages, may benefit from practicing tasks designed to improve performance in specific aspects of cognitive functioning. For example, people can sometimes be taught to use memory aids. These memory aids, such as mnemonics, computerized recall devices, or note-taking could be much helpful.

What is the prognosis?

Dementia is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to think, speak, reason, remember and move. While Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, many other conditions also cause the same symptoms. Some of these disorders get worse with time and cannot be cured, while other types can be treated and even reversed. The three most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia, although sometimes a person can have more than one of these problems at the same time.
The most common cause of Alzheimer's disease involves a loss of nerve cells in the areas of the brain vital to memory and other mental functions. This loss is associated with the development of abnormal clumps and tangles of protein in the brain cells. The first sign of Alzheimer's disease is usually forgetfulness, so as the disease progresses, it affects language, reasoning and understanding. Eventually, people with this problem lose the ability to care for themselves. The precise cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, but risk increases with age, where ten percent of the population over the age of 65 has Alzheimer's. At the same time, nearly half of the population over 85 has the disease. One of the main symptoms of dementia is memory loss. However, you need to know that an example of normal forgetfulness is walking into the kitchen and forgetting what you went in there for, as well as misplacing the car keys. The person with dementia, however, may lose the car keys and then forget what they are used for. Normal forgetfulness is not similar to memory loss.
As we get older, the most common change that we complain about is memory change and some kind of memory loss. Memory change associated with healthy ageing does not interfere with everyday life in any dramatic way. Everyone is different, and the effect of getting older on memory is different for everyone. Recent research indicates that getting older has an impact on attention processes. It has also an impact on our ability to get new information into storage, recall time, and on tip-of-the-tongue experience. Recent research suggests that immediate memory and lifetime memory do not change as we get older so if this happen, you should report to the doctor.

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