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My mother who is living independently and has been mentally competent has been showing signs of extreme short term memory, but not long term memory. She seems confused and forgetful about her abstract thinking about things that happen minutes prior, but not what happened long ago. Is this a sign of beginning dementia or should I be concerned about an underlining reason.

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Debralee -- according to the Drugs.com information on Ativan one of the "less serious" side effects may be amnesia or forgetfulness, trouble concentrating; a "serious" side effect may be confusion. Have her problems with her memory coincided in any way with her use of the Ativan? You might want to speak with the doctor who prescribed this and ask if he thinks it might be affecting her in this manner.
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Debralee,
People disagree, but at 82, your mother no longer needs a mammogram. Cancer that occurs so late in life would be slow-growing, so early detection would not really save her life. Of course, that's up to you, her, and her doctor.

According to the book "The 36-hour Day", dementia is the loss or impairment of mental powers. Short term memory loss and repeating the same question over and over are both symptoms of dementia. Yes, it sounds like your mother has dementia.

The question is, what is causing it? There are common conditions like low thyroid or low vitamin B12 or medication that can cause dementia that may be reversible. It can also be caused by strokes. Treatment can prevent future strokes. That's why she should get a full work-up to be sure it's not an easy fix.

I hope it is reversible, for both of you.
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My mom has virtually no short-term memory. She's 93 and living in independent living. She's been this way for several years and it doesn't seem to be getting worse. She can still take care of her personal needs (dressing, bathing, heating up food I bring her). She reads the paper every day and works the crossword puzzle in the paper. She reads novels voraciously, but will sometimes tell me she's reading a book and then she'll re-read it a few days later, like she's never read it before. She cuts out articles from the paper for my brother or me and makes notes on articles about the stock market, etc. So in some ways, she's really got her wits about her and in other ways, she's in terrible shape. If my brother calls her, she can't remember that a day later or even an hour later. She will ask me the same question over and over within a 10 minute period. I don't think it's Alzheimers, because she still knows what things are and how things work, where she is, who people are, etc. And she seems to be maintaining and not getting any worse.

I strongly believe her memory issues are from medications she's on for her heart and blood pressure. They slow her heart rate down and therefore decrease oxygen to her brain. My mom was on Lipitor for some time and that has been known to cause memory issues. I took her off it, but I think the damage was already done.

So I don't know if you'd call that dementia in the classic sense or not. I don't think it is. I'd look first at medications your mom is on.
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My mother has a slew of doctors. Primary care physician, cardiologist, pulminary specialist, vascular specialist and orthomologist. Her main health issue is COPD and mobility issues due to fear of not being able to breath. Most of her doctor visits are preventative in nature. She is 82 and still goes yearly for a mammogram. Her medications are mostly maintenence medications except for Ativan which she takes before bed to help her sleep because of her COPD. She is a drama queen, but this short term memory loss and confusion is for real.
It only occurs with things that have happened minutes ago only. Past hours, days, weeks, years do not affect her memory.
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I don't know, but it is very common to remember things from long ago, but not recent things. I, myself, although not elderly yet, but not a young woman, sometimes have problems with short term memory. Many times I can go into the kitchen and then when I get there I can't remember what I went there for. In addition, I have read a lot of good things about turmeric for improving memory, possibly she may want to start taking it. It adds a lot of flavor when cooking with it, and they also sell it as a supplement. I think you're also suppose to take it with black pepper, as the turmeric is absorbed better.
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Debralee...My Dad is probably in the latter stages of Alzheimer's (sometimes its hard to tell what stage a person is in). He remembers things that happened when he was a child, during the 20 years he was in the military (retired 40 years ago); he brings up people from eons ago that he and my Mom knew and she doesn't even remember them! But he lives in a constant state of confusion, hallucinations, short term memory loss (doesn't remember if he took the pills given to him 2 minutes before). So something like this is not out of the ordinary with a person suffering from dementia, whether it be Alzheimer's, Lewy Body, any type of dementia. Does your Mom see a doctor? You should have her make an appointment, or do it for her, and have the doctor check her out. Also, is she taking any meds that might affect her memory. This is always possible. If that's the case, once she is off the meds her short term thinking should return. How old is your Mom? Does she have any other mental or physical problems?
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