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Who we are can be defined as the sum of our experiences, but without a memory of those experiences, who are we to ourselves? Memory loss is one of the scariest things that can happen to a person, so when we go out to catch a cheating spouse or play sports, we make sure to protect our heads, and by extension our memories. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, memory loss occurs
Memory loss is defined as any situation in which we are unable to recall things which we would normally be able to recall, such as our names or what we did last night. Sometimes we are aware that there are gaps in our memory and other times we need to be told by friends that we're missing some pieces. The most common type of memory loss is forgetfulness, where we begin to lose track of things like our car keys or when our family members are celebrating birthdays.
There are many causes of memory loss, chief among them is aging. As we get older, our body begins to function less and less efficiently before eventually breaking down. Small failures in memory - forgetfulness - are normal with age. When memory loss becomes a big problem, leaving us unable to recognize our neighbors or making us forget that we left the stove on, it is called dementia. One of the biggest causes of ageing related dementia is Alzheimer's disease. There are no real treatments for age related memory loss.
For those who are not in the later stages of life, memory loss can come as the result of brain trauma, side effects of drugs or other conditions, or a vitamin 12 deficiency. Meningitis, epilepsy, strokes, toxic exposure, allergies, alcoholism, and depression can all result in memory loss, usually of the short term memory, leaving us unable to remember an appointment. Sometimes, such as with stroke and meningitis, memory loss may be permanent, but with other conditions treating the underlying cause can alleviate the memory issue.
Brain trauma, however, is the most common cause of non-age related memory loss. Some patients have become entirely different people after being brain damaged in a car accident. Brains are fragile and complex, so often only time will tell whether trauma related memory loss is permanent or temporary. In the meantime, family members can help by reintroducing the affected person to their old life.