Weak memory - causes and therapy

Weak memory - causes and therapy

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The question, which is probably busy for many, do I suffer from a serious memory impairment if I occasionally forget something in everyday life? Or is it not normal to forget? When can one start talking about a pathological memory impairment? The reasons for memory impairment are varied and complex. The first question, however, is what a memory is. What is it generally understood and how do experts define it?


This means the ability to keep and organize various information such as pictures, words, events, stories ... and to be able to call them up again when required. Primitive life forms also have a memory, but memory performance increases with the development of the respective living being and becomes more complex.

How does human memory work?

For a long time, so-called memory drawers were assumed, which means that the respective information is stored at a specific location in the brain or else engraved. This idea has proven to be unsustainable in brain research, so that today it is assumed that information is not only stored in one place, but in several and that the memory of the complex interplay of different brain regions and cells works.

We only realize how much we rely on a functioning memory when it is missing or impaired. "When did I have a good memory, when did I have a bad one, when was it perforated?" With these questions, even the layperson will find that a functioning memory always depends on the respective situation. In the event of stress, memory performance can be inhibited or blocked; after a hard day's work, the name can no longer be remembered even after an intensive search. After a restful sleep, he is suddenly back, although or precisely because we are no longer looking for him. Such phenomena can be found frequently in everyday life, they are also called the seven sins of memory:

  • Volatility,
  • Inattention,
  • Blocking: tongue phenomenon, mnestic blocking syndrome; The name of the actor who doesn't want to come to mind
  • an incorrect or a wrong assignment: confusing time, place or person,
  • Influenceability,
  • the dependence of memory on knowledge and (belief) views,
  • the inability to forget.

These characterizations of the described everyday phenomena make it clear that memories are not simply saved, as would be the case with a computer. Rather, essential functions of memory in humans are linked to emotions. In many cases, memories cannot be retrieved as they were stored, both emotions and additional knowledge gained change and link the retrieval location in the brain. Emotionality and the ability to combine memories with existing and newly acquired knowledge make up the complexity of how human memory works. This distinguishes the human brain from both the animal brain and the way a computer works.

Different types of memory

Ultra-short-term memory plays a subordinate role in everyday life because it takes place in the millisecond range. Short-term memory works in the minute range. This is essentially about the short-term and quick memory, it is also called working memory. Everything that goes beyond the minute range is stored in long-term memory.

It is assumed that the memory is structured hierarchically in a constructive way: the episodic-autobiographical memory is essentially composed of the memories and events that have been made. These are broken down by time and place, so that imaginary time travel into the past is possible, events in the past can be reflected. The episodic-autobiographical memory is most susceptible to disorders (brain damage, psychological trauma ...).

Essentially, facts are stored in the knowledge system, and motor skills are essentially stored in procedural memory. Both priming and procedural memory work without conscious reflection.

Memory disorders

Both the type of memory disorder and the cause of the respective disorders are very diverse and different. For example, memory loss and memory disorders can arise from stress, they can organic or psychological Have causes age-related, occur due to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, or from excessive consumption of Drugs and alcohol to be triggered.

Parkinson's disease

The causes Parkinson's disease has so far not been fully resolved, presumed to be the cause: genetic makeup, the environment, inflammation, poisoning, medication The disease usually arises between the 50th and 60th decade of life.

Parkinson's symptoms: The first signs can be seen in a motor restriction: muscle stiffness, muscle tremors and a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, there is an increasingly increased attention deficit disorder and deficits in the procedural memory and thus a restriction of motor skills. The loss of motor mobility occurs in the form of falls, especially in the early stages of the disease, the cause of which should be clarified by a doctor.

Parkinson's therapy: In conventional medicine, if there is a memory impairment, drug treatment with not inconsiderable side effects is increasingly used. In the naturopathic area, nutrition therapy is used to counteract the difficult food intake due to motor disorders: whole foods, adequate fiber intake.

Tips for those affected: Light stroking massages, breathing exercises can loosen tense muscles and tense breathing. Even gymnastic exercises, both alone and with physiotherapy support, counteract the cramps and tension. In addition, general hardening measures such as dry brushes, alternating showers, full washing can be used, it is important to dose the measures in a subtly increasing manner. Parkinson's disease patients are recommended to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Alzheimer's disease

Strictly speaking, Alzheimer's disease can only be spoken of if the memory disorders go beyond age-related / conditioned forgetfulness. The loss of mental faculties is organic, in the narrower sense Alzheimer's disease can actually only be diagnosed after death.

Alzheimer's symptoms: The symptom picture is very complex and manifests itself in poor memory, perception and thinking disorders, delusions, disorientation, personality changes and, moreover, physical symptoms such as incontinence and immobility. The symptoms of Alzheimer's initially appear in a barely noticeable weakening of the brain (absent-mindedness, irritability, impaired ability to remember), in the further course the intellectual performance decreases sharply.

Alzheimer's therapy: The conventional medical therapy builds on the ABCDEF scheme on:

  • Antidementiva: drug whose effects are controversial; an improvement in social behavior and everyday activity is reported.
  • Bewegung: occupational therapy, physiotherapy.
  • C.erebral training with memory, perception, reality orientation training (RED).
  • Ddiets: varied, high in fiber and protein, low in fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids, sufficient fluid.
  • EMotional attention: patience, understanding of the situation of the person concerned, care, physical touch.
  • FManagement and family relief: Introduction of a structured daily program with permanent caregivers, including nursing and outpatient services, depending on the severity, an introduction to a nursing home should be considered.

The naturopathic treatment must be individually determined by the naturopath after a thorough medical history. As a prophylactic against Alzheimer's, garlic, artichokes and onions can be used. Taking garlic helps prevent age-related vascular diseases; it has a lipid-lowering effect. The artichoke is used to lower high blood pressure and to lower cholesterol.

Taking onions counteracts the age-related change in blood vessels. In addition, ginkgo has been shown to promote blood circulation and thus improve brain performance. It protects the nerves from increased breakdown. The plants mentioned can also be obtained as finished medicinal products. In addition, there is new knowledge regarding the effects of lemon balm and sage oil, both of which are said to have positive effects on thinking. An application in patients with dementia is currently being tested in studies.

Tips for patients and carers: Caregivers should look for help and support in counseling centers due to the increased demands and burdens. These measures counteract an increased susceptibility to infections, and those affected also maintain a relationship with their own bodies.

stress: Due to stress, memory may also be restricted. Stress is individual, what is a burden for some, it does not have to be for others. Whether we perceive the everyday demands on us as stress is subjective, individual and dependent on the type of day. It interacts closely with the overall mental state. Several studies have now shown that stress can have a toxic, destructive effect on different areas of the brain. This can manifest itself in current blockages but also in a decrease in the general brain performance. A blockage can also be triggered due to fear of failure. The fear of failure triggered such a stress that people are no longer able to access information such as: B. in preparation for an exam. Therefore, he can no longer take the required exams and thus escape the stress of performance.

amnesia: This can lead to amnesias due to both organic causes and stress (highly traumatic experiences). Persistent, negative and stressful stress can lead to memory blockages and memory weakness. Previously stored information can no longer be called up, the information in the autobiographical memory is often affected by the blockage. There is evidence of similarities between amnesia states with and without an organic cause. Massive stress conditions such. as a result of traumatic experiences, change the energy balance of the neurons. This ultimately leads to changes in the components of our brain, which is important for the memory. In many cases, this also represents a protective mechanism, in order not to have to be confronted with extremely stressful situations.

Stress reduction tips:

  • Movement / sport,
  • Meet friends,
  • Hobbies,
  • Incorporate rest into everyday life,
  • Relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation or yoga.

How can everyday life be made more accessible for people with limited memory?

  • Objects should always be kept and stored in the same places; finding them is made easier by appropriate labels and signs.
  • Situations that overwhelm you should be avoided. To do this, those affected must draw the boundaries for themselves and determine in which situations they still feel comfortable and in which they do not.
  • Everyday life should be structured in such a way that household chores are carried out at fixed times of the day.
  • The use of pin boards, diaries and notebooks helps to find information more quickly.
  • Pocket calendars help you remember appointments.

Memory training

Method of places (loci): This method is named after the Greek philosopher Simonides and is one of the oldest memory training techniques. When it comes to remembering different parts of a list, you can take a well-known place (kitchen or way to work). The elements to be remembered are assigned to concise objects / buildings / facilities in the chosen location. The components of the list are now accessed via the respective items.

Picture chains: It is often the case that coherent terms have to be noted, that is, they form meaningful groups. Such as on a shopping list are baking ingredients or the ingredients for a particular dish. To be able to remember the individual items on the shopping list, you can now imagine how to bake a cake from the baking ingredients. This makes terms easier to remember. Based on invented stories or recipes, pictures of the terms emerge, making them easier to remember. In general, puzzles are solved, strategy games are played, arguments for and against and the like improve and structure the memory. It is important to pay attention to appropriate rest periods. (nd)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Hans J. Markowitsch: On the trail of memory - On remembering and forgetting, Primus Verlag, 2002
  • Elvira Bierbach, Michael Herzog: Handbook Naturopathic Practice - Methods and Therapy Concepts, Urban & Fischer Verlag / Elsevier GmbH, 2005
  • German Society of Neurology (DGN): Idiopathic Parkinson's Syndrome, S3 guideline, AWMF register number: 030-010, (accessed September 11, 2019), DGN
  • German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychosomatics and Neurology (DGPPN), German Society for Neurology (DGN): S3 guideline "Dementias", (accessed September 11, 2019), AWMF
  • Michael C. Levin: Memory Loss, MSD Manual, (accessed September 11, 2019), MSD

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