Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease on the Brain’s Memory Systems

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

The impact of Alzheimer’s on the brain can’t be underestimated. This condition impacts all of the brain’s memory systems. Learn why Alzheimer’s affects the mind’s ability to retain information and create new memories. 

Normal Aging and Alzheimer’s

Most people experience cognitive decline as they age because the processes that keep the mind and body healthy start to decrease, eventually impacting the areas of the brain associated with learning and memory. Common health issues like elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure reduce the functionality of all physical systems, even those found in the brain. Seniors experiencing age-related cognitive decline mix up names or forget where they put their keys. This type of memory loss is distinct from seniors with Alzheimer’s. With Alzheimer’s, the damage done to the brain is extensive and severe.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another cognitive disorder and you need additional help, consider hiring a professional caregiver. In Rhode Island, home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Impact on Semantic Memory

The semantic memory is the system that oversees general knowledge, which ranges from names of common objects to the ability to categorize information. The semantic memory is primarily located in the temporal lobes and the cortex, areas that are inevitably damaged by Alzheimer’s. When these areas are affected, seniors with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty recalling the names of ordinary objects. The ability to comprehend categories may also diminish. Studies show people with Alzheimer’s have a difficult time listing types, like types of flowers or animals. 

Impact on Episodic Memory

The episodic memory system enables people to learn and remember new information and events. This memory system, which is located in the temporal lobe, is one of the first to be affected by Alzheimer’s, which is why seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s often notice the ability to recollect recent events is diminished, while the ability to remember past events is unchanged. 

Impact on Working Memory

Working memory, which is located in the prefrontal cortex, is the system that enables people to navigate through the world on a day-to-day basis, and it’s also responsible for concentration and short-term information retention. When the working memory is damaged by Alzheimer’s, seniors have a difficult time accomplishing things on their own. It impairs the ability to follow multi-step tasks and remember basic information. As working memory starts to diminish, seniors with Alzheimer’s may need more support completing simple tasks, ranging from getting dressed in the morning to cooking meals. 

If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Rhode Island seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.

Impact on Procedural Memory 

Procedural memory is the memory system least affected by Alzheimer’s. This type of memory, which is located in the cerebellum, is responsible for automatic, unconscious skills. It’s where the brain stores the memories that allow people to type without looking at the keyboard and ride a bike after years without practice. As this memory is one of the last to decrease, seniors with Alzheimer’s may continue to enjoy hobbies like knitting, even as their condition worsens.

If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Rhode Island seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. Call us at (401) 284-0979 today to learn more about our premier Alzheimer’s home care.