Long Term Memory Loss Factual Information
As one gets old, long term memory loss can be a major problem. Our brain is very complex and has a great capacity to store information. The brain can store both short and long term memory with great efficacy. However, by the time an individual reaches age of 30, brain cells have started to die. As one gets old, more cells die and hence both memory storage capacity and ability to make new memory is affected.
What should be understood is that short term memory is not affected by aging. However, some individuals simply are not able to remember things that they were well acquainted with in the past; like their old neighbors, street address or the year they were born. This is loss of long term memory.
Besides aging, many factors can affect short and long term memory loss. The most common cause of long term memory loss is Alzheimer’s disease. This disorder affects close to 10% of the population at age 65 and about 60% by age 75. Other causes of long term memory loss include strokes, head injury, side effects of drugs, brain tumors, seizures, high blood pressure, alcoholism, and poor nutrition
In the beginning, one may be able to remember very distant things of the past, but not be able to remember things which just happened a few days ago. For example when may not remember what one ate yesterday but still be able to remember where one was born.
Symptoms of long term memory loss:
- Forgetting things frequently
- Forgetting how to do tasks which were once very familiar
- Difficulty learning new tasks or doing new things
- Repeatedly asking the same question in one conversation
- Having trouble making choices
- Not being able to keep track of daily events
- Forgetting names
- Losing one’s way home
Several areas in the brain have been identified which play a role in long term memory. The hippocampus located in the center of the brain is a small organ which has a great capacity to store memory; however, this structure is very vulnerable to age related changes. The loss of neurons in the hippocampus starts around age 30 and eventually leads to loss of memory. Other area of the brain where memory is supposed to be retained is the frontal part of the brain; when trauma occurs in the frontal brain, a distinct loss of memory is obvious.
Unfortunately, there is no real treatment for memory loss. One can however prevent memory loss or reduce the risks by regular exercise, eating healthy, learning how to manage stress, getting adequate sleep, not smoking, controlling diabetes and hypertension. There are a few drugs used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs are known to increase levels of acetylcholine in the brain and supposed to improve memory and cognitive behavior; however the majority of the studies reveal that these drugs are only useful for only the mildest cases of dementia. Moreover, the drugs are very expensive and have side effects which in many cases are worse than the long term memory loss.
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