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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Feature:
Memory & Forgetfulness

Memory Conditions at a Glance

Alzheimer's disease—A disease that causes large numbers of nerve cells in the brain to die. This makes it hard for a person to remember things, think clearly, and make good judgments. The symptoms begin slowly and get worse over time.

Mild cognitive impairment—Also called MCI. It causes people to have more memory problems than other people their age. The signs of MCI are not as severe as those of Alzheimer's disease. They include losing things often, forgetting to go to events and appointments, and having more trouble coming up with the right words than other people their age. MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer's.

Vascular dementia—A medical condition caused by small strokes or changes in the brain's blood supply. Signs can appear suddenly. They include changes in memory, language, thinking skills, and mood.

Find Out More

The Department of Health and Human Services sponsors a website, www.alzheimers.gov, that links to information about memory loss and Alzheimer's disease, care, and services. It is a one-stop web portal directing you to information from the following organizations and others, which can give you information about memory loss, support groups and services, and publications on dementia and Alzheimer's. It can also provide information about research centers and clinical trials and studies.

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA): Forgetfulness resources; www.nia.nih.gov/health/featured/memory-cognitive-health
  • MedlinePlus: www.medlineplus.gov; in the Search box, type in "forgetfulness" or "memory" or "Alzheimer's"
  • Eldercare Locator: Information on home care, adult day care, nursing homes, and more in your community. Phone: 1–800–677-1116; www.eldercare.gov
  • Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center: Information on diagnosis, treatment, patient care, caregiver needs, long-term care, and research related to Alzheimer's disease. Phone: 1–800–438–4380; www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers
Mary's Story

Mary's Story

Mary couldn't find her car keys. Not on the hook just inside the front door, or in her purse. Finally, she found them on her desk. Yesterday, it was her neighbor's name. Her memory was playing tricks on her. She was worried.

So she went to her doctor for a check-up. She was fine. Her forgetfulness was a normal part of aging. The doctor suggested that Mary take a class, play cards with friends, or help out at the local school to sharpen her memory.

Al's story

Al's Story

Al didn't know what was happening. He was having a hard time remembering things. He wasn't eating or sleeping well and didn't want to see friends. He was confused and irritable.

His wife was worried. She took him to the doctor. It turned out that Al was having a bad reaction to one of his medicines. Once his doctor changed the medicine, Al felt more like himself.

Read More "Memory & Forgetfulness" Articles

Understanding Memory Loss / Memory Conditions at a Glance / NIH Research

Summer 2013 Issue: Volume 8 Number 2 Page 18