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Memory of Past Events | Common Signs

  • Forgets details of personal life events (e.g. birth date, name of elementary school)
  • Does not recall major or milestone events (e.g. death of parent or retirement)
  • Forgets details of near past events (e.g. where they spent last Christmas)
  • Forgets that near past events occurred (e.g. that they went to the doctor last month)
  • Cannot remember how to do familiar activities (e.g. knit a familiar pattern, rules to a card game)
  • Does not remember birthdays or anniversaries
  • Forgets the time/date of habitual events (e.g. TV program, church service)
  • Forgets long-standing habits (e.g. always ate fish on Fridays)
  • No longer talks or tells stories about the past
Memory of Past Events | General Description

Alzheimer's disease is the classic dementia in which memory is impaired. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, a person's remote/long term memory becomes affected and is one of the first signs of the disease. Long term memory is composed of three main components: procedural memory , semantic memory and episodic memory . Procedural memory is a person's ability to remember how to do certain skills (e.g. riding a bicycle) that they are unable to describe in words. However, semantic and episodic memory may be expressed in words. Semantic memory is memory of general knowledge (e.g. there are 60 minutes in an hour) and episodic memory is memory of a past experience (e.g. one's wedding day, or what was served at supper the night before). Alzheimer's disease first chiefly affects this type of memory.

The person you care for may be slow in retrieving memories or unable to recall the memory at all. As well, they may require a verbal prompt or visual cue in order to help retrieve the memory. At first, this might be successful, but as Alzheimer's disease progresses, the ability to be cued to remember decreases.

Unlike Alzheimer's dementia, people with Frontotemporal dementia exhibit memory disturbances. Where they have trouble are with the semantic memory and with understanding what words and objects mean. They remain oriented to time and place and recall information about the present and past.

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See Also:
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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