franciscan ministries logo

What Causes Memory Loss?: Separating Fact from Fiction

April 15, 2023

Blog image

We still have so much to learn about memory and the human brain, so cognition and memory loss are often misunderstood. In addition, how memory loss is presented in the media can lead to myths and fears that are irrelevant to what causes memory loss and a decline in cognitive functioning.

For a basic example, let’s look at how a memory is formed and the accuracy of a memory. It is common to think that once a memory is created, it is cemented in the brain; however, this is not the case. When you think of a specific event or memory, your brain is actually recalling a version of that memory. Instead of remembering the original event or memory, you remember the last time you thought of this certain memory. This means that our memories can change and evolve and are not always as reliable as we may think.

Offering compassionate care and programming throughout our Ohio, Illinois and Indiana memory care facilities, our team at Franciscan Ministries understands the impact that these misconceptions can have on individuals living with dementia and their families. This is why we are sharing the truth behind some of these common myths to help individuals better understand what causes memory loss.

False: Memory Loss is a Normal Part of Aging

It’s fair to assume we’ve all walked into a room and forgotten why we went in there, or we’ve been unable to find the word we are looking for during a conversation. However, this type of infrequent forgetfulness does not affect our daily lives.

“Simple forgetfulness (the “missing keys”) and delay or slowing in recalling names, dates and events can be part of the normal process of aging. There are multiple memory processes, including learning new information, recalling information and recognizing familiar information. Each of these processes can get disrupted, leading to the experience of forgetting (Cleveland Clinic).”

On the other hand, people living with dementia experience memory loss that significantly  impacts their daily functioning. This is not a normal part of aging and is a good indicator of whether or not memory issues should be cause for concern.

False: Memory Loss Means Dementia

While memory loss is not a normal part of aging, it does not automatically mean you or a loved one has developed a form of dementia. In fact, there could be several other reasons for this memory loss.

There are treatable medical conditions with dementia-like symptoms, including memory loss, such as:

  • Medication interactions or side effects
  • A urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Dehydration
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Stress
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Thyroid disorder

False: Memory Loss is Inevitable

The mind is a powerful thing. Just like we have to exercise our bodies to promote health and wellness, we also need to exercise our minds. Research has shown that some of the ways you can reduce your risk of developing dementia include:

  • Participating in regular physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet
  • Staying mentally and socially active
  • Quitting or avoiding smoking
  • Not drinking alcohol excessively

False: Memory Loss Means a Lower Quality of Life

We know receiving a dementia diagnosis and experiencing the symptoms of memory loss is challenging. However, individuals with memory impairments can still lead joyful, fulfilling lives, especially if they receive the proper care and support.

Our specialized memory care programs at Franciscan Communities provide 24-hour support in welcoming and secure environments, providing dignity, respect and an enhanced quality of life.

Throughout our Ohio, Illinois and Indiana memory care facilities, we customize care plans to every individual, allowing us to get to know each resident on a personal level and tailor care to their needs, goals and preferences.

Taking care of your physical and mental health can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia, but memory loss does not mean a loss of quality of life. Even with a dementia diagnosis, receiving the right care enables individuals living with memory impairment to live joyfully and with purpose.

We invite you to visit our website or contact a member of our team to learn more about the memory support options we offer at our Ohio, Illinois and Indiana memory care facilities.