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Every day, you have different experiences and you learn new things. Your brain cannot store all of that information, so it has to decide what is worth remembering. Memory is the process of storing and then remembering this information. There are different types of memory. Short-term memory stores information for a few seconds or minutes. Long-term memory stores it for a longer period of time.
Memory doesn't always work perfectly. As you grow older, it may take longer to remember things.
It's normal to forget things once in a while. We've all forgotten a name, where we put our keys, or if we locked the front door. If you are an older adult who forget things more often than others your age, you may have mild cognitive impairment. Forgetting how to use your phone or find your way home may be signs of a more serious problem, such as
- Alzheimer's disease
- Other types of dementia
- Head injuries
- Blood clots or tumors in the brain
- Kidney, liver, or thyroid problems
- Reactions to certain medicines
If you're worried about your forgetfulness, see your health care provider.
NIH: National Institute on Aging
- Coping with Memory Loss (Food and Drug Administration)
- Things Forgotten: Simple Lapse or Serious Problem? (National Institutes of Health)
- Understanding Memory Loss: What To Do When You Have Trouble Remembering (National Institute on Aging) - PDF
- 4 Types of Foods that Boost Your Memory (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
- Chemo Brain (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Cognitive Health (National Institute on Aging)
- Do Memory Problems Always Mean Alzheimer's Disease? (National Institute on Aging)
- Sleep On It: How Snoozing Strengthens Memories (National Institutes of Health)
- Well-Aged Mind: Maintaining Your Cognitive Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Agnosia (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- Amnesia (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Brain Fog (Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation) - PDF
- Dissociative Disorders (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Prosopagnosia (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- Transient Global Amnesia (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
Statistics and Research
- NIH Scientists Try to Crack the Brain's Memory Codes (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Impaired emotional memory and decision-making following primary insomnia.
- Article: Real and illusory perceptions of patients in induced coma.
- Article: Depression involved in self-reported prospective memory problems in survivors of breast...
- Memory -- see more articles
- Memory disorders -- see more articles