There are many types of memory disorders, some occurring at an early age and others at later stages in life. Some are genetic, while others can be caused by medical conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, or traumatic brain injury (TBI). The three major categories of memory disorders are amnesia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease, which we will cover in the next section. Below is more information on the different types of memory disorders throughout a person’s lifespan.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Although Alzheimer’s Disease is not a normal part of aging, many older people develop some memory or thinking problems as they age. But these changes are usually mild and do not interfere with their daily life. Alzheimer’s Disease, on the other hand, begins gradually but eventually leads to severe damage of your brain cells (neurons) in all areas of your brain. It spreads from one area to another and gets worse over time.
With an autoimmune disease, an immune system attacks its own body. This can happen when abnormal proteins develop and attack specific organs or tissue in a person’s body, triggering an inflammatory response that causes those tissues to become inflamed. The immune system mistakenly views those inflamed organs or tissues as foreign invaders to be attacked, causing autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
The term dementia refers to a significant decline in mental capacity severe enough to interfere with day-to-day activities. This condition has several types and causes, including Alzheimer’s Disease. The memory problems experienced by people with Alzheimer’s tend to worsen over time, eventually making it impossible to function independently. Dementia is not a normal part of aging; however, seniors are at greater risk for developing it as they age.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurological disorder that causes thinking, language, and behavior problems. It’s caused by changes in brain cells. If you have FTD, you’ll lose abilities slowly but steadily. The Disease gets worse over time. Most people develop symptoms between 45 and 65 years old. Also, note that FTD is different from Alzheimer’s Disease. In Alzheimer’s Disease, you might forget things like where you put your keys or why you walked into a room. People with FTD can’t remember these things either, but they also lose important social skills. They may be rude or inappropriate in public or embarrass themselves when they don’t know who someone is that they’ve just met in their own home.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between normal aging and dementia. Sometimes referred to as mild cognitive disorder or mild neurocognitive disorder, MCI is characterized by subtle but noticeable changes in memory, language, and thinking abilities. An estimated 50 percent of people with MCI will progress to Alzheimer’s Disease; others may not progress but will continue to experience mild symptoms of confusion. Early detection of MCI can help you seek treatment and make lifestyle changes that promote cognitive health.
Vascular Cognitive Impairment
A diagnosis of vascular cognitive impairment is also sometimes referred to as vascular dementia. VCI happens when there’s an interruption in blood flow to either part or all of your brain. Your brain depends on a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function properly. When those aren’t delivered in sufficient amounts, you may suffer from short-term memory loss or other problems with cognition (thinking and reasoning). People with VCI often complain that they are fuzzy or confused, but they usually don’t realize that their memory loss is due to something more serious than stress or getting older.