Memory disorders are problems with recollection, storage of information or retention of memories arising from different forms of neurological damage to concerned structures of the brain. Memory disorders may be progressive as seen in Alzheimer’s disease or suddenly as seen in persons with head trauma. Most of the non-traumatic disorders of memory are associated with ageing. Causes of:
- Head injury
- Substance abuse
- Family history
- Cardiovascular disease
- Brain tumours
- Nutritional deficiencies like thiamine (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
There are many types of memory disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease
Occurs in the elderly although it can still occur at about the age of 40. This is most common cause of dementia (behavioural and cognitive changes) characterized by progressive memory dysfunction. It occurs as a result of loss of nerves in the brain at disconnections at synapses. This leads to an overall shrinkage of the affected sites. The symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Behavioural changes
- Impaired communication
This refers to a condition that affects the just memory and learning. It could present as difficulty in learning or retaining information after the neurological damage (anterograde amnesia) or stored information before the damage (retrograde amnesia).
This refers to a group of neurological conditions that impair recollection, reasoning and communication. The conditions include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular demential, Lewy body demential and Frontotemporal dementia. The symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Communication problems (language is affected)
- Personality and behavioural changes
- Impaired judgement, organization and concentration.
- Huntington’s disease
This is a hereditary neurological disorder that causes emotional instability, movement difficulties and impaired cognition. It initially presents with clumsiness, depression, mood swings and progressively slowing and slurry speech.
- Parkinson’s disease
This is neurodegenerative disease due to the reduction in dopamine, the chemical substance needed to communication between nerve cells (neurotransmitter). Dopamine is necessary for moment. Hemce, the symptoms of Parkinson’s diseases are mostly related to movement. These include tremors (shakiness), slowness, stiffness and tiredness of muscles. Subsequently, other neurologic symptoms like cognitive changes and depression appear.
Treatment is based on the cause of the memory disorder although most of these disorders do not have a cure. The process can only be slowed down.
Psychosocial interventions are used as adjunct to medical treatment.
Stimulation-oriented therapy with the use of art and music have proven to have relevance in management.
Provision of support and care is direly needed as most of these disorder progress.