Causes and Symptoms (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Memory impairment is a common problem, and often a concern among older individuals. Memory problems are not, however, restricted to older adults. They may occur at any age and may be attributable to numerous conditions and behaviors, including the use of alcohol and other drugs. Memory loss occurs in various degrees and may be associated with other evidence of brain dysfunction and other physical and emotional problems. Memory loss may be partial, limited to events immediately before or after a traumatic event. Memory loss may also be complete. Amnesia is the term used to describe complete memory loss. Memory loss may also be permanent or temporary, or may vacillate, with a person slipping in and out of being able to remember appropriately.
Benign senescent forgetfulness. In this condition, the memory deficit affects mostly recent events, and although a source of frustration, it seldom interferes with the individual’s professional activities or social life. An important feature of benign forgetfulness is that it is selective and affects only trivial, unimportant facts. For example, one may misplace the car keys or forget to return a phone call, respond to a letter, or pay a bill. Cashing a check or telephoning someone with whom one is particularly keen to talk, however, will not be forgotten. The person is aware of the memory deficit, and written notes often are used as reminders. Patients with benign...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Memory impairment is a serious condition that can interfere with one’s ability to function independently, and sometimes at all. Any time that memory loss develops, identification of underlying causes should occur because a treatable cause may be found, preventing further memory loss or perhaps reducing the amount of memory loss. In some cases, proper treatment may even reverse memory loss, such as in some conditions related to alcohol-related memory loss. Research examining memory continues to differentiate among conditions involving memory loss. Efforts to better assess conditions and make distinctions earlier in the process of such conditions remain important. The earlier that problems such as dementia can be identified, for instance, the earlier treatment may be able to occur, potentially increasing quality of life.
Research has also identified ways to slow the progression of some diseases related to memory loss. As the root causes of memory impairment and brain changes are understood, future research may be able to arrest the progress of amnesia and memory loss and even to treat dementias now considered irreversible, such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple infarct dementia. Exciting research in the area of inflammation and immunological functioning may prove to be productive.
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Hamdy, Ronald C., J. M. Turnbull, and M. M. Lancaster, eds. Alzheimer’s Disease: A Handbook for Caregivers. 3d ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby Year Book, 1998. This handbook offers nursing tips for people caring for Alzheimer’s patients. Includes bibliographical references and an index.
Masoro, Edward J., and Steven N. Austad, eds. Handbook of the Biology of Aging. 6th ed. Boston: Academic Press/Elsevier, 2007. This is part of a handbook on aging series. This edition significantly revises earlier versions of this work. Varied theories of aging are discussed, along with additions exploring whether diseases associated with aging are necessarily part of the aging process.
Mendez, Mario F., and Jeffrey L. Cummings. Dementia: A Clinical Approach. 3d ed. Philadelphia: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003. This is a standard textbook, comprehensively presenting the clinical, diagnostic, therapeutic, and basic science aspects of the dementias. This edition has been revised and updated with nearly one thousand new references and revised descriptions of all major dementia syndromes.
O’Brien, John, et al., eds. Dementia. 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Text that covers advances in the research of degenerative disorders, current diagnostic criteria, rating scales, investigations, neurobiological mechanisms, therapeutic options and services, and all aspects of management,...
(The entire section is 261 words.)
Memory Loss (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)
Memory loss can be partial or total. Most memory loss occurs as part of the normal aging process. However, memory loss may also occur as a result of severe emotional trauma or due to brain damage following disease or physical trauma. Memory loss can be described as amnesia, forgetfulness, or impaired memory.
Memory is often classified as immediate (retention of information for a few seconds); short-term (retention of information for several seconds or minutes); and longterm (retention of information for days, weeks, or years). In short-term memory loss, patients can remember their childhood and past events but fail to remember events that happened in the past few minutes. In long-term memory loss, patients are unable to recall events in the remote past.
Depending on the cause, memory loss can be sudden or gradual, and it can be permanent or temporary. Memory loss resulting from trauma to the brain is usually sudden and may be permanent or temporary. On the other hand, age-related memory loss, such as in Alzheimer's disease, occurs gradually and is usually permanent. It is barely noticeable at first, but progressively gets worse.
In most cases, memory loss is temporary and usually affects memories relating to a portion of a person's experience. However, severe...
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