It can be annoying and even a little scary when you forget something important, but it’s not uncommon to be a little forgetful from time to time. Forgetting to bring the present to the birthday party or being unable to recall where you left your car keys are common forms of forgetfulness that we all experience, no matter what age we are. But when is it time to be concerned? What are the most common symptoms of more severe memory loss?
First, it’s important to understand the different between short-term memory and long-term memory. Long-term memory includes memories from the past. For example, your wedding day 20 years ago would be considered a long-term memory. A short-term memory is something that you store in your memory recall for a short period of time, such as what you ate for lunch yesterday.
You also need to consider the progression of the memory loss. If you are getting considerably worse in remembering either long-term or short-term memories, you may want to seek medical attention. Memory loss caused by alcohol and drug abuse or stress is reversible, and shouldn’t get progressively worse. Progressive memory loss is generally a sign of something more serious and should be checked out by a doctor.
Also, determine whether your memory loss is permanent or temporary. Do you remember the item later on, or have you forgotten it entirely? Amnesia and dementia can be complicated issues, so a doctor’s advice is highly recommended in cases of extreme memory loss.
Whether you’re experiencing temporary memory loss or are dealing with daily, even hourly, forgetfulness, it’s important to discuss these changes with your primary care doctor to determine when it’s time for a neurological evaluation.