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Memory Loss Symptoms and Causes

Memory can be defined as a person’s ability to encode, retain and recall information. Disorders of memory can range from mild to severe, yet are all a result of damage to neuroanatomical structures to some degree. This damage hinders the storage, retention and recollection of memories. Memory disorders can be progressive, as with Alzheimer's disease, or they can be immediate, as a result of a head injury.

Certain types of memory disorders may be treatable, if their causes stem from health issues. For example, medication side effects, vitamin B12 deficiency, chronic alcoholism, infections or blood clots in the brain or blood are known causes of memory loss. Thyroid, kidney or liver disorders can also be causes of memory loss. Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend may feel sad, lonely or worried. For older people, memory problems are a sign of a more serious underlying problem.

The Memory Disorders Center at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute of North Shore-LIJ Health System is dedicated to diagnosing and treating a wide spectrum of neurological memory disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of memory impairment. All patients and families can look forward to receiving expert treatment with the utmost compassion, sensitivity and respect.

The conditions we treat at the Memory Disorders Center include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease – A progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by abnormal clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (neurofibrillary tangles) composed of misplaced proteins in the brain. The symptoms include memory loss, language deterioration, impaired ability to mentally manipulate visual information, poor judgment, confusion, restlessness and mood swings.
  • Dementia – A descriptive term for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by a number of memory disorders that affect the brain. Patients may have memory disorder symptoms such as losing their ability to maintain emotional control or experiencing personality changes and behavioral problems such as agitation, delusions and hallucinations. Memory loss is also one of the symptoms of dementia. Specific symptoms of memory loss in dementia include having difficulty recalling events, not recognizing familiar people and places, and having trouble solving problems and performing calculations.
  • Pick's disease – A rare and permanent form of dementia, Pick's disease is similar to Alzheimer's disease, except that it tends to affect only certain areas of the brain. Pick's disease causes an irreversible decline in a person's functioning over a period of years. Symptoms of Pick’s disease include impulsivity and poor judgment, extreme restlessness, overeating or drinking to excess, lack of attention to personal hygiene and obsessive or repetitive behavior.
  • Transient global amnesia – is a temporary, but almost total disruption, of short-term memory with a range of problems accessing older memories. Symptoms of this form of memory loss include sudden, profound memory loss and sudden disorientation or confusion.

Make an appointment at the Memory Disorders Center:
Cushing Neuroscience Institute’s Memory Disorders Center makes it easy for you to take the first steps in ensuring the best neurological and neurosurgical care for yourself or your family. Simply fill out our Request an Appointment form, email us at neuro@nshs.edu or call us at (516) 325-7000.

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