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Which Types of Memory Are Commonly Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition that affects the parts of the brain responsible for many different aspects of memory, such as retention, processing, and recollection. However, it doesn’t affect all types of memory equally. As the disease advances, certain types of memory will be more impacted than others, although eventually a wide range of cognitive abilities will be affected. Here are the most common types of memory that tend to be impacted by Alzheimer’s.

Short-Term Memory

The ability to retain newly acquired information is affected first during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This is known as short-term memory, which refers to the ability to readily retrieve newly learned details. Signs of short-term memory issues may include:

• Having difficulty following lengthy conversations
• Forgetting where objects were recently placed
• Increasingly needing to use reminder cues like Post-It notes or alerts on devices

Because short-term memory issues in older adults can also be related to infections, tumors, and even undiagnosed depression, it’s important to have your senior loved one fully evaluated to determine if his or her short-term memory issues are associated with Alzheimer’s. Once a positive diagnosis is made, appropriate treatment recommendations can be made.

There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading Toronto elder care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.

Episodic Memory

Episodic memory refers to the ability to recall important life events or “flashbulb moments,” like when your loved one got married or where he or she was when Kennedy was shot or 9/11 occurred. This type of memory can be affected if there’s cell damage related to Alzheimer’s affecting the cerebrum, prefrontal cortex, and nearby lobes. It may be possible to slow the deterioration of this type of memory by reminding your loved one of important moments in his or her life. A good way to do this is by looking at photos or telling family stories.

Semantic Memory

Sometimes referred to as “common knowledge memory,” semantic memory encompasses the meaning of words and general facts most people automatically know—e.g., the sky is blue, the names of major countries in the world, etc. Seniors with Alzheimer’s typically experience this type of memory loss during the later stages of the disease. If your loved one’s semantic memory is affected, you may notice he or she is:

• Unable to remember what common foods are called
• Not able to clearly ask for familiar objects, like a hairbrush
• Suddenly confused about how to use silverware
• Unable to tell the difference between different types of weather

Aging adults with Alzheimer’s who are experiencing issues with semantic memory can benefit from the help of a trusted at-home caregiver. If your senior loved one needs professional in-home care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a trusted provider of respite and 24-hour care, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care for seniors.

Procedural Memory

When Alzheimer’s gets into the final stages, the ability to perform tasks and maintain basic skills is often affected. These abilities are part of what’s called procedural memory, which applies to actions involving reasoning and logic. Language abilities and attention span can also be affected. If your loved one is having issues with procedural memory, you may notice he or she is no longer able to:

  • Participate in favorite activities without constant assistance
  • Clearly express him or herself
  • Follow basic directions or instructions 

Every senior living with Alzheimer’s deserves high-quality Alzheimer’s care. Toronto, ON, families can rely on the caregivers at Home Care Assistance to keep their loved ones safe while managing the symptoms of the disease. Using our Cognitive Therapeutics Method, our caregivers help seniors regain a sense of pride and accomplishment while promoting cognitive health. If you’d like to learn more about our premier Alzheimer’s in-home care for seniors, call (416) 488-8777 to speak with one of our knowledgeable Care Managers.