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My mother, 95, has had memory glitches for several years, but mostly things like word retrieval or someone's name. I just rolled with it, but recently she has started losing bits of common factual knowledge, and this caught me by surprise.

For instance, while playing with my cat, she suddenly asked if all cats had whiskers. She said she had never noticed whiskers on a cat before. Now, we've had cats in the family off and on for seventy years, and I can remember her scolding me as a small child for trimming the cat's whiskers with scissors.

Or here's another: she's a lifelong gardener, very good with plants, but recently I realized that she was thinking that an annual plant was one that bloomed only once a year --- not one that lived only a year.

About the same time, I noticed that she was losing memories of place/direction --- what the doctor's office building looked like from outside, which way to turn to go to the library. This was really noticeable, since she has always been a ferocious back-seat driver and navigator, and she has suddenly stopped warning me to change lanes a mile or so before every turn.

So ... in what order do people usually lose memories? Are there types of memory/information that are more or less likely to go first? Last? Does this change in what she remembers mean anything in particular, that is, does it mark a stage in the decline of memory or does it depend on the individual?


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With my mom the short term memory went first. Her dr. said that was typical. But within short term and even onto long term I have not noticed a particular pattern - although interestingly, remembering her own age seemed to be one of the first longterm things to go. No matter how often she is reminded - in an hour or a week - she can't recall her age. I have heard that particular areas of the brain are responsible for specific types of knowledge and/or memories and the type of dementia and/or the area of the brain effected correlates to specific types of memory loss.
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Realtime I don't have a clue about how memories are lost. Or formed. My mom is 96 and has no short-term memory. Her memory comes and goes, which is even more confusing. One day she can't remember something and the next day (or even hour) she can. She can't remember how old she is, but she can remember when I told her to save the bags her newspapers come in, because I can recycle them. I told her that twice and she remembers. We've talked about her age 500 times and she can't remember that. You'd think her age would be more important (and hence easier to remember) but it doesn't work that way with her.

So I see no rhyme or reason to how her memory works. You may notice the same with your mom. I just go with the flow, or I'd go crazy trying to figure it out!
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