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Symptoms of a Short Term Memory Loss

author image Kathleen Blanchard, R.N.
Kathleen Blanchard is a registered nurse, with more than 10 years of experience in cardiovascular health, emergency room and ICU. She writes professionally for and Blanchard is currently employed as a senior case manager and has held certification as a critical care registered nurse (CCRN), advanced trauma life support (ATLS), and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS).
Symptoms of a Short Term Memory Loss
Business man thinking Photo Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Short term memory loss, also referred to as cognitive decline, can be the result of an underlying disease. The causes of short-term memory loss include anxiety, depression, early Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, head trauma, substance abuse, hormone imbalance, vitamin deficiency and emotional trauma. Short term memory loss means a person has difficulty remembering recent events, retrieving familiar data or processing information.

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Cognitive Decline

Inability to remember recent events is a sign of short term memory loss. Cognitive decline can be subtle and not recognized by family members. The condition may become progressively worse, leading to full blown dementia. Planning and organizing becomes progressively more difficult. The individual may forget to take medications, attend appointments or pay bills. Familiar items can be permanently misplaced. It can eventually become impossible to maintain daily routines, making independent living impossible. Memory loss in otherwise healthy individuals will not worsen over time and should not cause concern.

Difficulty Finding and Mixing Words

Finding words during conversation is indicative of short term memory loss and may lead to frustration. Inappropriate words might be used that make no sense. Difficulty finding and mixing up words in the presence of irreversible disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease can lead to isolation and anxiety. Patience and gentle coaching can help eliminate frustration and fears when your family member or friend forgets what they want to say.

Mood and Behavioral Changes

Abrupt changes in mood can occur in association with short term memory loss. There is often no discernible reason for sudden mood or behavior alterations. The individual might sense something is not right; reacting to feelings of uneasiness. Recognizing that mood or behavioral changes are occurring is not possible.

Disorientation in Unfamiliar Surroundings

Mild forms of cognitive decline can lead to disorientation in unfamiliar surroundings. Visiting a new place or any disruption of daily routines can make memory loss worse, causing disorientation to surroundings. Short term memory loss is easier to compensate for in familiar surroundings where routines have been established.


When short term memory loss occurs, the same questions are asked repeatedly. Conversations that occurred recently can be forgotten, and stories may be retold frequently. Mild memory impairment may be treatable. If you think you are having a medical problem related to memory, seek the help and advice of your physician. Short term memory loss may be reversible and should be investigated for cause.

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