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Memory Loss Symptoms and Causes

Our lives are treasure troves of memories, which hold our past, present, and the future. In a sense, our memories help not only to define and identify us but also to live and learn; without our memory, we wouldn’t know who we are, where we are, and what we are doing. Memory is thus an important cog in the wheel of life that helps us go about our daily business and also create memories for ourselves and others.

It can be troublesome when one finds that he/she is unable to remember simple things like where one’s keys are. In general, we remember and forget things regularly, unless we reaffirm stored the information.

Thus, memories are generally classified as short-term memory and long-term memory. The information first gets stored in short-term memory for about 1 to 20 seconds; we then need to reaffirm the information for it to be stored in long-term memory. To remember, one needs to retrieve information stored in our long-term memory.

The organic cause of memory loss is physiological damage or decay of the brain; this refers to the gradual slowing down of central nervous system. For example, Alzheimer’s amnesia and dementia are due to inability to retrieve information from the long-term memory and also the inability to encode new information. Other causes of memory loss could include medical and psychological conditions, trauma, drugs or alcohol abuse, or infections. The simple aging process is an important factor affects memory in the elderly.

Memory loss in children can be due to cognitive impairment, forgetfulness, anxiety, nausea, fatigue, or developmental delay. Poor health can also cause memory loss in children. Children often tend to get irritable or confused when they experience memory loss.

In women, it has been found that memory loss occurs more during menopause. It is commonly felt that there is strong connection between estrogen and memory in women, and as estrogen declines during menopause, so does memory. However, the loss of memory is so slow that often the symptoms are not recognized. Poor sleep and hot flashes can also affect memory in women.

The symptoms of memory loss can vary, but includes forgetting dates, names, beginning a task but then forgetting its purpose, getting lost, being repetitive in giving the same information, finding it difficult to do familiar tasks like driving, getting confused, and decreased alertness.

How to counter memory loss?

There are many ways in which one can counter memory loss by making certain lifestyle changes. Some of the lifestyle changes you can make are listed below.

  • To begin with, start with eating foods that will boost memory. These include blueberries, apples, spinach, onions, garlic, broccoli, grapes, red beet, cherries, eggplant, and rosemary. These are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and folic acid, which protect the lipids in the brain cell membranes and help with brain functionality.
  • Exercising regularly will release oxygen supply to the brain, which, in turn, would ensure that the brain is stimulated and nourished, preventing memory loss.
  • Mental activities like crosswords, puzzles, games, and Sudoku are like exercises for the mind, and have been known to reduce the risk of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, etc. Take out some time to engage in such activities on a daily basis.
  • Being actively involved in social events, like being a volunteer in a club, and maintaining good and healthy social relationships helps boost memory. 
  • It is also important to let go off negative feelings such as hatred, bitterness, and anger to keep the brain active.
  • Laughter is the best medicine to counter memory loss.
  • The most essential thing is to rest well. Do not lose out on sleep as it helps in rejuvenating our brain and keeping our memories intact.
  • Children can combat memory loss by taking time to concentrate in storing information, trying to involve all the senses, and relating the information to colors, smells, tastes, and textures. This helps in imprinting information in the brain. Thereafter, children can reinforce the information by telling it in their own words and ideas to someone else.


Submitted on September 11, 2012