Think You Know What Dementia Is?

Dementia. Alzheimers. Those are two scary words. Many people think they know what dementia is. What Alzheimers is. They use the terms synonymously. Alzheimers is the most common one, but it is not the only dementia. Over the last month we’ve been talking about memory. In my post “What Do You Remember and How” you learned about the study of memory, the stages of memory, and the types of memory. “Do You Have a Terrible Memory?” discussed why you forget, the types of forgetting, and what normal forgetting is. You also learned that there were two umbrella terms that describe abnormal types of forgetting: Amnesia and Dementia. My post, Amnesia: Beyond the Tropes described what the scientific or medical reality of the forgetting called amnesia. What Dementia Is Many people think it is only about forgetting past events and people. It is more than that. Some believe that changes to memory, thinking skills, behavior, movement, and emotions are signs of senility or senile dementia. That represents a misbelief that serious mental decline is part of aging. Dementia is a term for a variety of symptoms caused by damage to brain cells. This damage is not normal aging. Usually, it occurs after age […]

Amnesia: Beyond the Tropes

You’ve read it a million times. The heroine (or hero) has no memory of who she is. No name. No remembered family. No past. Amnesia, says the doctor. And the story takes off. She (or he) attempts to recover her name. Her family. Her past. A little frightened and a lot intrigued, you are hooked. You’ve read it so many times, it’s entertaining but not surprising. However, reality might surprise you. Over the last month we’ve been talking about memory. In my post “What Do You Remember and How” you learned about the study of memory, the stages of memory, and the types of memory. “Do You Have a Terrible Memory?” discussed why you forget, the types of forgetting, and what normal forgetting is. You also learned that there were two umbrella terms that describe abnormal types of forgetting: Amnesia and Dementia. You may be like me. You’ve read so many stories and seen so many movies or television shows whose characters suffered amnesia that you think you understand what it is. You could be wrong. Do You Know What It Is?  Amnesia is total or partial loss of the ability to recall experiences or events that happened in the preceding few seconds, […]

Do You Have a Terrible Memory?

Forgetfulness gets a bad rap. There are jokes about forgetfulness. You curse yourselves when you forget things. When you forget an appointment, you explain that you have a terrible memory. But do you really? Is forgetfulness always a problem? This is part two of my exploration of memory and memory loss. If you missed the first post, read, What Do You Remember and How. Today’s post is about forgetting or forgetfulness. It’s something we all do. It’s something many of us fear. But forgetting is to memory what yin is to yang. Why You Forget According to Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com, we focus on understanding the world, not remembering it. In real life, there are relatively few situations where we focus on remembering—in school, preparing for a speech, and when meeting new people.  You don’t have a terrible memory. “Memory is designed to be selective.” It’s probably better that we don’t remember every—parking spot we’ve used, password and pin code we’ve ever had, every meal we’ve ever eaten. “People who are better able to prune away irrelevant events are also better able to remember pertinent events, a phenomenon known as adaptive forgetting.” We do not remember days; we remember moments.  Cesare Pavese Types […]