An Overview of Alzheimer’s-Related Memory Loss

By , 9:00 am on

More than five million adults in the United States have Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that the disorder is responsible for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s disease damages neurons and progresses over time. The resulting biological changes are commonly known to affect memory and other brain functions. The symptoms seniors experience are more extensive and severe compared to the changes caused by the normal aging process.

How Alzheimer’s Damages Neurons

The human brain contains billions of nerve cells that communicate with each other using electrical impulses and chemical transmitters. The neurons in different areas of the brain have specific functions. Amyloid beta and tau proteins form in the brain. Normally, physiological processes occur that remove excess proteins. However, in the presence of Alzheimer’s, the proteins accumulate in abnormal amounts inside, outside, and between the neurons. The proteins stick together and to the neurons, which alters their positions in relation to each other. The communication between the cells becomes disrupted, and the damaged neurons eventually die. 

If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, help is just a phone call away. There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading Cedar Falls at-home care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.

Types of Memory Affected

Making and storing memories are complex processes that occur in different brain regions. Cognitive symptoms become apparent as each of the areas is affected. Alzheimer’s damage begins in the hippocampus, where short-term memories are formed and transformed into long-term memories known as episodic memory. The affected neurons can no longer hold on to short-term memories. Thus, the memories don’t last and aren’t stored.

The temporal lobes also play a role in memory conversion and storage. As the disease progresses, these regions also endure damage. When the temporal lobes are affected, seniors with Alzheimer’s may repeat certain phrases, questions, or topics of conversation. The progressive damage prevents seniors from remembering what they said even moments before. Time no longer has meaning. An inability to retain short-term memory and convert it to long-term memory leads to an inability to learn. 

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elderly home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Semantic Memory

Semantic memory formation also takes place in the temporal lobes and is responsible for retaining facts and knowledge. The lobes contain the information that enables seniors to categorize and remember the names of people and objects. When the temporal lobes are damaged by Alzheimer’s, older adults cannot remember what things are called or how they’re used.

Procedural Memory

Procedural memory occurs in the cerebellum and involves the ability to automatically repeat a task or skill after it’s learned. These types of memories enable someone to play an instrument, ride a bike, or perform daily grooming. When procedural memory is damaged, seniors with Alzheimer’s can no longer retrieve the information needed to accomplish these types of activities.

Working Memory

Working memories develop in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for enabling someone to focus or pay attention. In combination with short-term memory, the cortex makes it possible to remember general information, such as addresses, phone numbers, and how to accomplish tasks. When working memory is affected by Alzheimer’s, the memories formed here remain hidden, and new information cannot be stored.

Without the right assistance, Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage. If you’re looking for professional Alzheimer’s care, Cedar Falls Home Care Assistance provides high-quality care aging adults and their families can count on. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers are trained to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live happier and healthier lives, and we also provide specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Call Home Care Assistance at 319-260-2222 to learn more about our flexible and customizable senior care plans.