Memory Lane: Types of Memory Disorders

A senior woman is looking off into the distance.Occasionally forgetting something isn’t unusual, like where you put your car keys or why you walked into a room. But sometimes a person’s forgetfulness may be caused by disease. These memory disorders include several types of dementia and amnesia. Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect thinking, memory and social abilities seriously enough to interrupt a person’s ability to function each day, according to the Mayo Clinic. Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and vascular (blood vessel) changes are the most common causes of memory loss.

Which Memory Disorder

Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, is a brain illness that can impact older people, getting worse over time. The Alzheimer's Association notes the illness currently has no cure, but research is ongoing. It adds that there are treatments available.

Dementia with Lewy bodies is one form of progressive dementia, and it features slow cognitive decline, fluctuating attention and alertness, visual hallucinations, and motor symptoms like those with Parkinson’s disease, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Depression, which also can present as a memory disorder, can be treated and reversed. In addition, sleep and hormonal disorders can cause memory dysfunctions, but they are treatable.

Here are some subtle symptoms and warning signs that someone’s forgetfulness might be caused by a memory disorder:

  • Recent memory loss that affects a person’s job skills
  • Difficulty performing tasks that should be familiar
  • Language problems, forgetting simple words or substituting inappropriate words in sentences
  • Disorientation, such as a person not knowing where he is, how he arrived there or how to return home
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Misplacing things in inappropriate places
  • Loss of initiative
  • Changes in personality or mood

BayCare offers several support groups for those with memory disorders and their caregivers. Visit for more information.