One of the most distressing symptoms of all dementia types is memory loss – both for the person with dementia and for their family and friends; it can be frustrating and frightening for all involved.
Memory loss occurs due to damage to areas of the brain that create and retrieve memories. But how exactly does dementia do this?
How Does Dementia Affect Memory?
Although it can impact older memories, dementia mostly affects the ability to create new ones, making even the most recent events unable to be recalled. In particular, this can cause important activities – such as taking medication – to be a major problem.
Sometimes memory loss will manifest as taking longer to retrieve information or memory. An example is when someone uses the wrong word or lacks the word for common objects, such as a chair or a lamp. That common feeling of forgetting a word you know starts to occur on an abnormally frequent basis and is a major indication of an underlying problem with memory – such as dementia.
Another aspect of dementia loss is this: although the sufferer may still be able to create memories, they are often unable to retrieve that memory or information. This can result in them getting lost in a place that they know well or forgetting about something they’ve only just done that morning, for example.
To a degree, everyone deals with memory loss in small doses, such as going into a room and forgetting what they went in for or having that word on the tip of their tongue, but they just conjure it up from their mind. Now imagine that a hundred or more times a day, forgetting people’s names and faces or even feeling like you’ve met someone before when they’re, in fact, a complete stranger.
From not remembering how to make a cup of tea or getting lost in your own street – the harshness of dementia and memory loss knows no bounds and can affect any element of daily life. Some memories, however, are more firmly established due to time and can even be recalled in detail, like a wedding or birth, as these have an emotional aspect. Those things that have been repeated many, many times such as driving or playing the piano, these involved a lot of practice to perfect so are deeper ingrained.
How To Cope With Memory Loss
All types of dementia can result in memory loss, including Lewy body dementia Alzheimer’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia, and Vascular dementia, because they all attack the brain.
However, it’s how you cope with it that is the common denominator in leading a manageable lifestyle with such a life-limiting ailment. Naturally, the condition and the way in which people cope will be different for everyone – and it’s relatives and friends in particular who need to discuss the different ways of dealing with a loved one with memory loss and dementia. Ultimately, whether it’s Alzheimer’s or another related form of a degenerative condition, everyone has their own way of dealing with the realities of memory loss’s cruelty.
Senses all play a part in memory recall; for example, a photograph of a place or person may trigger an emotion through sight that will help a person recall a name. Cologne or perfume can also help recollection using smell, as can food; a notable food dish with a strong scent can evoke a memory of when it was first tasted, for example. Plus, touch can even help with memory – the sand between your toes could bring back a memory of a great family holiday. As for hearing, music can be an excellent memory aid as well, as it inspires memories and emotions of people and places.
Do Not Despair
Talking to your doctor to find ways of managing memory loss and joining a dementia group can help you throw your ideas out there and take others on board too. As mentioned, memory loss is frustrating and scary, and it can transform a simple task into a more difficult operation. Despite, just remember this: help is out there in the form of support groups, medical professionals, friends, and family – and you should always use them for support in your time of need.