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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 awhile. We've all forgotten a name, where we put our keys, or if we locked the front door. If you are a senior 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) Also in Spanish
- Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Ask for Help (National Institute on Aging) Also in Spanish
- 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) Also in Spanish
- Study Shows How Memories Ripple Through the Brain (10/31/2017, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Memory Loss: 7 Tips to Improve Your Memory (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Agnosia (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- Amnesia (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Brain Fog (Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation) - PDF
- Dissociative Disorders (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- 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: Memory and Executive Screening for the Detection of Cognitive Impairment...
- Article: Stimulating thought: a functional MRI study of transcranial direct current...
- Article: Recollections of Emotional Abuse and Neglect in Childhood as Risk...
- Memory -- see more articles
- Memory disorders -- see more articles