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Types Of Memory Disorders

by | Jul 8, 2024 | Caregivers Support, Caregiving, Community, Dementia

Understanding memory disorders

Our memory is one of the most powerful brain functions and we often don’t think about how important it is – until it affects us or our loved ones. The ability to remember and reminisce life experiences and even the people around us should not be taken for granted.

A memory disorder is any change in one’s brain structures that interferes with one’s ability to day to day life, inhibiting activities of daily living.

In this article, we look at the different types of memory disorders depending on how long it tends to affect one:

  • Temporary, such as the kind of amnesia a person experiences after a mild brain injury
  • Permanent, such as memory loss that follows a stroke
  • Progressive, such as the gradual memory loss associated with dementia


Types of memory disorders
Memory disorder What?
Amnesia Amnesia is a form of memory loss which is typically temporary in nature but can also become permanent. 

Amnesia patients typically still remember who they are and can often remember events from their childhood. The part that amnesia patients struggle with is remembering recent experiences and have trouble learning new things

This condition could result from a head injury, stroke, brain tumours and even psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Alzheimer’s disease Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects your thinking, behaviour and ability to do everyday tasks. 

In early stage Alzheimer, patients typically experience memory loss and difficulty in finding the right word to use. For more advanced stages of this condition, the caregiver might be required to assist with all activities of daily living. 

This condition is typically caused by a build-up of certain proteins in the brain, which gets worse over time. 

Cognitive impairment Cognitive impairment is a pretty generic term used to describe a condition where one has problems remembering things and solving problems. Attention spans may be shortened, and there might be problems recognising people and places. 

Conditions like dementia, stroke, infections and even vitamin deficiency are possible causes of cognitive impairment. Family and caregivers are typically in the best position to notice these changes.

Confusion At first glance, many might not think of confusion as a memory disorder. This is not a condition to be taken lightly as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition. It is a decline in one’s cognitive ability.

This can be both a temporary and long-term condition and some common symptoms include that of fear, anxiety, hallucinations, drowsiness, agitation, disorientation and changes to regular behaviour.

Delirium Delirium is a sudden change in one’s thinking and behaviour, often caused by changes in health, such as an infection or a medicine change.

For example, changes in your environment, such as being hospitalised might cause one to be unsettled and hence triggering this condition. 

Disorientation A symptom of many different conditions. Disorientation occurs when you are confused about the time, where you are or even who you are.

Someone who is disoriented may be unable to focus, talking gibberish, unable to recognise people.

In terms of treatment, it is important to identify the cause of the disorientation before treating this. 



As caregivers, it is good to understand the different types of memory disorders and how to support a loved one who has a memory disorder. It is almost impossible to pinpoint the cause of a memory disorder instantly as there are a myriad of reasons that could have triggered memory disorders. Also, memory disorders are not limited to only seniors though older folks tend to be more prone to these due to underlying health conditions.

When to seek help? When memory loss disrupts one’s quality of life, it is best to seek timely help.

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Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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