Forgetfulness; Amnesia; Impaired memory; Loss of memory; Amnestic syndrome
The family should provide support. Reality orientation is recommended -- supply familiar music, objects, or photos, to help the person stay oriented. Some people may need support to help them relearn.
Any medication schedules should be written down so the person does not have to rely on memory.
Extended care facilities, such as nursing homes, should be considered for people whose basic needs cannot be met in any other way, or whose safety or nutrition is in jeopardy.
Call your health care provider if you have any unexplained memory loss.
The doctor will perform a thorough examination and take a medical history. This will almost always include asking questions of family members and friends. They should come to the appointment.
Medical history questions may include:
The physical examination will include a detailed test of thinking and memory (mental status or neurocognitive test), and an examination of the nervous system. Recent, intermediate, and long-term memory will be tested.
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:
Cognitive therapy, usually through a speech/language therapist, may be helpful for mild to moderate memory loss.
See: Dementia - homecare for information about taking care of a loved one with dementia.
Kirshner HS. Approaches to intellectual and memory impairments. In: Gradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:chap 6.
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