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Quick Facts

Memory Loss


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2021| Content last modified Sep 2021
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What is memory loss?

Memory loss is the inability to remember things as well as you used to.

  • Your family members may notice your memory loss before you do

  • Signs of more serious memory loss include forgetting about things that just happened or having problems doing activities you've done many times before

  • Using lists, calendars, and memory aids can help you cope with memory loss

When should I see a doctor for memory loss?

See your doctor if you have memory loss and any of these warning signs:

  • Trouble doing daily activities such as managing your money or medicines

  • Trouble paying attention or concentrating

  • Feeling depressed about your memory loss

See your doctor right away if you have memory loss and:

  • Cannot pay attention and seem very confused

  • Feel depressed and think about hurting yourself

  • Have symptoms of a nervous system problem such as headaches, trouble using or understanding language, low energy, vision problems, or dizziness

What causes memory loss?

What will happen at my doctor visit?

Doctors will do a physical exam and ask questions about your memory loss, such as:

  • What types of things you forget

  • When your memory problems started

  • Whether your memory seems to be getting worse

  • If it's getting harder to do your job or daily activities

  • If memory loss runs in your family

Doctors may want you to bring a family member or friend to your appointment who can describe symptoms you may not have noticed or may have trouble remembering.

Doctors may do tests such as:

How do doctors treat memory loss?

Doctors will:

What can I do to help cope with memory loss?

Live a healthy life:

  • Eat healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Be active each day

  • See your doctor for regular check-ups

  • Take part in learning, social, and physical activities

  • Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night

  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol

  • Avoid stress

Use strategies to cope with memory loss:

  • Make lists

  • Keep a detailed calendar

  • Stick with a routine, such as going to bed at the same time every night and getting ready the same way every morning

  • Repeat new information several times

  • Focus on just one thing at a time

  • Stay organized, such as always putting your car keys in the same place

  • Join social activities to stay involved with others and stay mentally active

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