When most people think about the way memories work, they think about it like a photographic process. This could not be further from the truth. The human memory is unbelievably flexible when it comes to interpretation and recollection. There are a lot of factors that can cause changes in memory, memory recall, and memory functionality.
The Human Memory
As humans, we do not have complete control over everything that can affect our memories. We can stay social, remain active, read frequently, and remove stress from our lives, but there are other things that can affect our memories. Things like sleep, misinformation, emotions, lifestyle, and point of view can have a strong impact on how we recall things.
Our memories can also be affected by other aspects of aging. We all have trouble remembering where we sat the television remote, or even our coffee cup, especially when things are hectic. However, forgetting things frequently can be a normal part of aging, or it could be the manifestation of age related conditions, like dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Here are some common misconceptions about people who suffer from memory loss:
Memory Loss Is a Natural Part of Aging
As one ages, it is not uncommon to have an occasional memory problem. It is common for people who are aging to often forget things in everyday life. However, there are times when memory loss becomes more notable, and can become a cause for concern. While it can be very concerning, it is difficult to determine if this is a normal memory problem, or a memory problem that should seek further assistance.
There are some age related conditions that cause more than occasional lapses in memory. The most common of these diseases is dementia and Alzheimer's. These diseases can cause brain cells to malfunction, and memory loss becomes worse over time.
Alzheimer's Disease Only Causes People to Forget
Unfortunately, Alzheimer's disease is a condition without a cure. There is no remission, there is no medication to completely treat the condition. Alzheimer's disease destroys brain cells, which cannot regenerate. The condition causes memory loss, behavior that is erratic, and eventual loss of body function and control. It painfully strips a person of their identity, their ability to converse with loved ones, think clearly, walk, and eventually the ability to talk and eat on their own. It’s an extremely difficult time for those suffering and their families.
Only the Elderly Get Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease can affect people of almost any age. There have been sufferers as young as 30 years old. In cases like this, the disease is referred to as early-onset Alzheimer's disease, or younger-onset Alzheimer's. In the United States alone, there are 5.5 million people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Sadly, about 3.6% of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease are under the age of 65.
Common Misconceptions About People with Memory Loss
There are a lot of misconceptions about what people with memory loss are capable of doing or experiencing. However, you cannot put everyone with memory loss into a specific category. Everyone with memory loss is different, and you have to take their specific situation into account when you are determining what they are capable of at the time.
Here are some common misconceptions people have about those with memory loss:
People with Memory Loss Don't Know, or Cannot Communicate What they Want
Someone with memory loss does know what they want. They can have difficulty communicating it in a way that we are used to, so you have to approach the situation with patience. If someone with memory loss has difficulty communicating how they feel, pay attention to their behavior and take time to ask how they are feeling.
People with Memory Loss Don't Understand What is Going On
Someone who has memory loss does understand what is going on around them. They may have difficulty communicating about it though. The portion of the brain that manages memory is completely separate from the centers in the brain that manage communication and physical awareness.
You Should Correct someone With Memory Loss when They Are Wrong
While you may feel like it is necessary to correct a person with memory loss when they are wrong, you do not have to. The truth is, correcting them when they are wrong can actually be damaging.