My memory is not as sharp as it used to be

by Sue
(Melbourne, Australia)

For about two or three years, I've been forgetting things, for example going into the supermarket and finding I've left the list at home.

memory problems story
I forget "normal" things that most people forget occasionally, but I now forget much more often than I used to. Very often when I go out my front door, I think of something else I need and go back in again.

People used to say how good I was at remembering their names and other details. Now I often forget names. I also forget faces, who the person is, where I met them and so on.

I sometimes get into complicated mix-ups with times, places and appointments. Sometimes I make mistakes that seem quite bizarre and then I feel ridiculous. I used to pride myself on being well organised.

Sometimes in conversation, I can't remember what I was going to say. Sometimes I can get around these problems and keep the conversation going, but it can be embarrassing.

In various ways my thinking is not what it used to be.

Twelve months ago, I saw my GP and got a referral to a memory clinic. I had some tests, including an MRI and extensive tests of various memory skills.
The tests didn't show any reason for my forgetfulness. For example, there was no evidence of a tumour or dementia.

The doctor at the memory clinic recommended a couple of books, which have lots of good ideas. Reading these books made me feel much more hopeful and more in control of what is happening to me.

1) Remembering Well: How Memory Works and What to Do When It Doesn't, by Delys Seargent & Anne Unkenstein.

2) "It's Never Too Late To Change Your Mind: The Latest Medical Thinking On What You Can Do To Avoid Dementia", by Dr Michael J. Valenzuela.

I'm not quite so worried now and not making as many mistakes, and I'm less alarmed by the mistakes I do make.

I did a net search and found Doug's tips for remembering. I was much comforted to see that some ordinary normal people have problems like mine and are working out some really neat ways to manage the problems.

It was a big help to me to find out that there are a huge number of people in the same boat. So I have started a Yahoo Group in the hope of making contact with more people who have similar problems. We can swap experiences and information.

To get to the Yahoo group, you can go to the Yahoo home page, then click on Groups, then Health & Fitness, then Support and then scroll down to Forgetfulness. Or you can just go to

I'm in Melbourne, Australia, and the two books I mentioned are both Australian. See the Yahoo Group for details and to see if you would like to join the group.


Doug's Reply. You make an excellent point about awareness. It's a lonely feeling to believe you are the only one whose memory isn't what it used to be!

But the truth is that age-related memory loss is often just a normal consequence of getting older. Although Alzheimer's dementia makes the headlines, far more people suffer quietly with lesser (but still stressful) forms of forgetfulness.

Day planner and calendar
A helpful approach to avoiding embarrassing forgetfulness is careful use of memory aids. These include planners and calendars, and various memory-jogging tricks. In addition, a healthy diet, regular exercise, proper sleep, and other steps taken together can help keep your brain in the best shape possible.

You did the right thing by consulting with your doctor and having an MRI and neuropsychological tests performed. Normal memory decline is one thing, but pathology is quite another.

If something had been found, then you could have it treated medically - but of course that's not possible until there's first a diagnosis. Some causes of memory loss are medically reversible (such as normal pressure hydrocephalus, which mimics Alzheimer's dementia), especially if caught early.

I hope your Forgetfulness Yahoo Group is going well. With any luck, the story you've shared here will help others find your group and decide to join. I'm sure they would find it helpful to have others to talk to about their memory issues.

Thanks for sharing your memory problems story, Sue.

Best regards,
This is information only. It is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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