Memory problems and dementia

Information about different types of memory problems, such as dementia, plus links to support and advice.

We all experience times when we misplace objects. We can't remember where we put our keys, wallet, purse and phone. We also all experience forgetting important dates, such as birthdays, anniversaries and appointments. Sometimes it is the consequence of everyday stresses - a busy workload, a jam-packed social life or feeling anxious or unwell.

Sometimes it can be more serious, happens more often or can include forgetting sequences of how to get dressed in the morning, how to make a cup of tea or how to follow a recipe. Sometimes you find yourself in an unrecognisable place, don't know where you are and you don't remember how you got there. This can make you feel anxious, scared and worried about what could be wrong.

On the whole infrequent, general memory loss can be part of normal everyday living, sometimes it can be the result of stress, alcohol or substance misuse and sometimes it can be linked to health conditions.

Memory loss, issues with time and place and sequencing and changes in mood can be symptoms of dementia, which is the umbrella term used to describe these symptoms. There are over 200 types of dementia, the most common types are:

  • Alzheimer's disease, which is when abnormal proteins surround brain cells causing damage to the internal structure of the brain cells and prevents chemical connections between the cells causing them the cells to die;
  • vascular dementia, which is when the oxygen supply to the brain is reduced by narrowing, blockages or damage to the blood vessels causing the cells to become damaged or die. This can be caused by strokes either one large stroke or a collection of mini strokes over a longer time period;
  • mixed dementia, which is when a person has more than one type of dementia;
  • dementia with Lewy bodies, which is when tiny spherical structures develop inside nerve cells leading to degeneration of brain tissue in the brain; and
  • frontal-temporal dementia, which is when damage in the brain is usually focused at the front of the brain and effects personality and moods.

People with multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease can also be at an increased risk of developing dementia.

If you are experiencing any type of memory loss symptoms, you should make an appointment to visit your doctor.

Dementia support at our libraries

The library service aims to support the health and wellbeing of those living with dementia, raise awareness and understanding, promote self-help and provide information and signposting to enable people to access support. Visit our library health and wellbeing page to learn more and find resources and events to support people with dementia. 

Additional information from NHS Choices

See the NHS Choices pages below for more information on memory problems and dementia:

Additional information on memory problems and dementia

See the following web pages for more information on memory problems and dementia:

Further information

Diagnosing dementia can be difficult, especially if it is in the early stages. You will have been to your GP who has sent you for a number of different checks. These will have ranged from complex discussions between the GP and yourself / or your family and friends, to memory tests and brain scans. Your test will have confirmed that you have a dementia diagnosis.

You might be feeling a whirlwind of emotions from feeling overwhelmed, confused and sad to anxious, nervous and not sure where to turn for help.

It's important that you consider what you want to do next. You might want to:

  • find someone to talk to;
  • find out a bit more about dementia and how your dementia might manifest;
  • attend a group or service in your area; and / or
  • think about planning for your future.

During this time you will be learning how to live well with your dementia and to maximise the things you can do with your dementia. Things that you might want to consider include:

  • treatments - drug treatments and non-drug treatments;
  • visit your GP often and manage any other health conditions;
  • eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids;
  • exercise regularly;
  • stay socially involved with your friends, family, groups and stay physically and mentally active;
  • help to maintain your independence with assistive technologies and simple changes to your home environment including increased lighting and removing trip hazards;
  • planning for your future - consider your future needs and wishes and share these with your family and carers;
  • consider making a will and lasting power of attorney applications for health and wellbeing and property and finances;
  • consider advance statements and advance decisions; and
  • find out about other support and services you are entitled to.

Additional information from NHS Choices

See the NHS Choices pages below for more information on memory problems and dementia:

Additional information on memory problems and dementia

See the following web pages for more information on memory problems and dementia:

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