Reported Observed Symptoms:
Different parts of the memory are affected in different ways during the aging process. The terms, short-term and long-term memory, are still used but it is helpful to consider memory functioning in more detail:
(Episodic memory is information that is stored with mental tags about when, where and how it was picked up e.g. your first day of school, what you ate for dinner last night. Memories may be stored from minutes to years. The ability to learn new information and recall recently learned memory declines from middle age. Remote memories are more resistant to loss).
(Semantic memory is the memory of meanings (factual and conceptual knowledge) e.g. knowing that Wellington is the capital of New Zealand or why a fork is different from a knife. The volume of this memory increases gradually from middle age to the young elderly but declines in very elderly people).
(Procedural memory is the "how to" knowledge of skills and procedures, and can be explicit (purposeful, conscious) e.g. learning to ride a bike, or implicit (automatic, unconscious) e.g. knowing the sequence of keys on a computer keyboard. This memory is usually retained into late life).
(Working memory is information remembered over a brief period of time (seconds to minutes) before it is dismissed or transferred to a longer-term memory. It can be phonological e.g. name of a person you just met, keeping a phone number in your head as you dial it, or spatial e.g. mentally following a route or rotating an object in your head. With aging, working memory span often becomes shorter, making it more difficult to retain a memory for long enough to use it. (BPAC 2008).
- Language impairment in producing and understanding speech.
- Recognition inability to recognise familiar people, places and objects.
- Reduction in ability to perform activities of daily living or difficulty in performing motor tasks.
or Disturbance in executive function -difficulty sequencing, organising, abstracting, planning.
- Mood Change in behaviour/mood i.e. agitation, apathy, anxiety, disinhibition.
- Orientation becoming lost in familiar surroundings, Becomes easily disoriented or lost in familiar places, trouble understanding a map.
- Personality/Behavioural may be changing with accentuation of less socially acceptable behaviours or loss of inhibitions.