What Type of Memory Does Alzheimer's Disease Affect?

Which Types of Memory Are Affected by Alzheimer’s?

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Millions of adults live with Alzheimer’s disease. The disorder is most commonly recognized for causing memory loss. The protein tangles and subsequent inflammation damage the neurons in the regions of the brain that enable short-term and long-term memory, and the types of memory affected are further divided into subcategories.

Short-Term Memory

Short-term memory is governed by the hippocampus, which is generally the first region damaged by Alzheimer’s. The hippocampus lies in the frontal cortex and is responsible for remembering recent events and obtaining new information. From the hippocampus, memories venture to other areas of the brain for long-term storage. However, in the presence of Alzheimer’s, new information doesn’t travel to the other regions. For this reason, seniors with Alzheimer’s may ask the same questions or repeat the same words or phrases. The brain no longer remembers events that occurred mere minutes before. On the other hand, seniors with Alzheimer’s are often able to recall events that happened decades in the past.

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Episodic Memory

Episodic memory includes the ability to retain and recall specific details about certain events. Episodic memories take place in the short-term and long-term memory regions. This type of memory can be equated to watching an episode of a television program. After watching a show, the viewer normally remembers what actors appeared, dialogue that was spoken, and the locations where individual situations took place. However, when the short-term memory is affected, seniors with Alzheimer’s don’t remember anything about the show within minutes of the program’s end. When episodic memory isn’t stored in the long-term memory or if the memories cannot be retrieved, seniors lose the ability to recall the specifics of the event.

Procedural Memory (Also Known as Muscle Memory)

When neurons in the cerebellum experience Alzheimer’s-associated damage, long-term memory is affected. When seniors learn new information or skills, procedural memory makes it possible to automatically perform the actions. This type of memory comes into play when reading, writing, dancing, or engaging in other activities. The area of the brain containing procedural memories is commonly the last damaged by the disease.

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Semantic Memory (also Known as Language)

Semantic memories are stored in different areas of the brain that include the temporal lobes. This type of memory is responsible for retaining general facts and knowledge pertaining to the names of objects and people. The location also retains memories that are declared or explained. When semantic regions become damaged, seniors with Alzheimer’s cannot remember the appropriate names for objects or the meanings of words.

Working Memory (Also Known as Executive Functioning)

Working memories are stored in the prefrontal cortex as short-term memory before transferring to long-term memory centers. The function is responsible for enabling attention, concentration, and focus. The information entered here often includes the names of people and locations. When any of these regions succumb to damage, seniors with Alzheimer’s no longer remember addresses or phone numbers. They may also have difficulty completing tasks requiring multiple steps. 

If you’re the primary caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, you don’t have to go through it alone. 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, Albuquerque 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. To learn about our high-quality in-home Alzheimer’s care services, give us a call at 505-798-0800 today.

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