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Memory Loss Disease - What Causes Memory Loss?

Updated on August 5, 2009

    My grandmother is the youngest of three siblings. She has two other sisters (one has since passed) but one is still living. My grandmother is 87 years old and my great aunt just turned 90. One may automatically assume that my grandmother would have a better memory than her older sister, but it is quite the contrary. My grandmother has severe dementia and cannot recognize family and cannot function by herself. Interestingly enough, when you ask her questions about her life, she can only recall her maiden name and doesn’t remember she was married or had children. She can recall events from her childhood in impressive detail. Anything from the last fifty years seems as though it has been ‘erased’ from her memory. On the other hand, my older, great aunt, still keeps up on current events and can hold normal conversations. They were raised by the same parents, in the same home. Situations like this add to the great mystery of human memory and aging.

The interesting aspect about memory loss is that it is commonly associated with aging. Statistically, more people do suffer from a reduced memory capacity later on in life, but the factors that cause poor memory can happen to almost anyone. To say that memory loss is inevitable in old age would be incorrect, however one can take steps to exercise their memory throughout their lifespan to increase their memory’s capability. Studies have proven that dementia, the leading cause of memory loss in seniors, can be reduced, however the exact causes of memory loss are still unknown.

To understand why memory loss is not inevitable in old age, we first must explore a few key facts. Firstly, not every 85 year old adult experiences memory loss. It is common, however not impossible for an 85 year old to have a sharp memory similar to that of someone in their thirties (just like my great aunt). They may not be able to recall information as quickly, however memory is not entirely based upon the speed of recollection, rather if recollection is at all possible. Secondly, at age 35, it is possible for a healthy person to have a stroke or be in a car accident and experience the same life changing memory loss as my 85 year old grandmother. Thus, one can conclude from these facts that memory loss is not inevitable at any age and certainly not in older age.

    Dementia is said to affect about 10% of all adults that are age 65 or older in the U.S. population. (Ertel, Glymour, Berkman, 2008) Since memory loss is a prominent factor in diagnosing dementia, memory loss in older adults will not be inevitable until research is performed on what causes it and what can cure or prevent memory loss disease.

    While the causes of dementia are still being researched, there has been progress in discovering ways to help decrease the rate of dementia in the senior aged 65+ population. In a recent study done to preserve memory function in the elderly, the results concluded that social integration can assist in delaying memory loss, however the study did not fully explore what particular aspects of social integration were most important when it comes to delaying memory in seniors and the study did not cover what caused the memory loss to begin with. (Ertel, Glymour, Berkman, 2008) Another study showed that the more exercise a person participated in, the lower their risk of suffering from dementia above the age of 65. (Larson, Wang, Bowen, McCormick, Teri, Crane, Kukull, 2006)

    While memory loss in seniors is unfortunately not inevitable,  the research being performed on ways to cure and slow down the widespread disease that affects memory loss in seniors, is progressively making groundbreaking discoveries. These findings have proven that it isn’t unreasonable to assume that the cause of dementia and its cure will be discovered in the near future.

Memory Loss Disease - Works Cited

Ertel, Karen A., Maria Glymour, and Lisa F. Berkman. 
"Effects of Social Integration on Preserving Memory Function
in a Nationally Representative US Elderly Population." 
American Journal of Public Health 98 (2008): 1215-220. 
EBSCO. MasterFile Premier. 2 July 2009 
Larson, Eric B., Wang Li, James D. Bowen, Wayne C. McCormick, et. al. 
"Exercise Is Associated with Reduced Risk for Incident 
Dementia among Persons 65 Years of Age and Older." 
Annals of Internal Medicine 144 (2006). EBSCO. Academic Search Premier. 2 July 2009 


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    • Universal Laws profile image

      Universal Laws 8 years ago from UNIVERSE

      Not sure it is the medical community who will help here - it is more a case of people understanding that they are what they eat or dont eat and their health has a lot to do with blocked emotions and mental states.

      I will consider doing a blog on this because my mother is a good case of this. She was taking a sugar substitute chemical every day in quite large quantities until the first real outer symptom showed of her speach going. This is when I convinced her to stop taking them but over years incredible damage has been done everyone will know if they check out all the aspatamine research. She also lived with someone who totally controlled their lives.

      I feel it will be looking at what causes it through free thinking people in the alternative natural modalities that will prevent this disease in the future.


      Linda - Universal Laws

    • osyjeff profile image

      osyjeff 8 years ago

      this is a very interesting article.Keep it up

    • girly_girl09 profile image

      girly_girl09 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks everyone for stopping by and reading. I'm really glad that you found the article helpful! Memory loss is a very tragic occurrence but I think that much process is being made in the medical community. Hopefully someday, we'll know the true causes(s) and know exactly what to do to reverse or stop memory loss disease.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 8 years ago

      This is a very well written article girly_girl. Well done.

      I watched my own grandmother's memory deteriorate in her last years and it was very heartbreaking. Grama, Mom, and all Mom's children had a very wonderful relationship. When this happens it is very hard to watch, and to deal with. I will be sending some people I know over to read this hub. Great Job.

      Fastfreda, I'm with you - I need to bookmark it for myself as's hoping I remember it did it!

      Namaste, it would be an interesting Hub for you to write about once you have had your mother on this Turmeric supplement for awhile. Your first hand experience would be worth reading about.

      R Burow, all the best as your family deals with this difficult situation.

    • R Burow profile image

      R Burow 8 years ago from Florida, United States


      This is a situation we are dealing with in my family. I am also considering writing from my experience. This was an informative article on a disease which is very complex. It is hard to get a handle on the affects of the disease on a loved one. There is never rhyme or reason to what my mother remembers and doesn't remember, and one day is different than the next. In my family we have been successful at keeping 'dementia' at bay with medication, etc. But the eventual effects are, as you have indicated, inevitable. Early detection does help.Thanks for the attention to a difficult subject.

    • Universal Laws profile image

      Universal Laws 8 years ago from UNIVERSE

      Great Interesting hub.

      Synchronicity here! Spent yesterday getting my 85 year old mother settled in a home where they specialise in keeping dementia patients active and involved so will bookmark the hub and let you know. My mother was at home with just my father and they never communicated very well so she has been getting progressively worse. She smiled and communicated more yesterday with all the other people around and the attention than I have seen her do in the last 6 months.

      Turmeric is a spice which is said to begin dissolving the plaques in the brain which cause dementia. I have also begun her on a supplement of this rather than the curry every day!


    • girly_girl09 profile image

      girly_girl09 8 years ago from United States

      Christofer - I haven't read any material about taurine over long term use...I will absolutely have to look into that. I wasn't aware that it was taken on it's own as a supplement.

      Fastfreta- Thanks for stopping by! I hope you won't be needing the information in this article anytime soon! :)

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Now this is an article that I truly need to bookmark, for future reference, possibly the very near future. LOL! Thanks girly_girl for that article.

    • Christofers Flow profile image

      Christofer French 8 years ago from Denver

      Excellent article. Very well done and sensitively told. Have you read any material about how the amino acid Taurine when taken as a supplement over the long term can help fight dementia and Alzheimers and memory loss? It is very interesting.