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I’m worried about my memory

It’s natural to occasionally struggle to put a name to a face, or to find where you put something.

Worried about your memory?

If you’re concerned about your memory, try not to worry. Contact your GP - they can talk through the problems you’re encountering and discuss the options available to you.

How your memory changes

It’s normal for our memory to be less able and flexible as we get older. These changes can start as early as your 30s.

About 1 in 20 people over the age of 65 have a dementia, which rises to 1 in 5 people over the age of 80. It might sound like a lot, but most older people don’t develop dementia. If 1 in 5 people in their 80s have the condition, it means 4 out of 5 don’t.

Older People’s Mental Health provide services for people aged 65 and over. Around half of the people we see have memory problems. The other half have mental health problems that can affect you at any age, such as depression or anxiety.

Carrying out an assessment

If you’re referred to one of our older people’s mental health services, you will have a full assessment of your physical and mental health. This includes an assessment of your memory. You may also need to have a blood test and sometimes a brain scan. In some cases, you may also need further memory assessment by a clinical psychologist.

Sometimes the assessment will show that there’s no illness or abnormality causing your memory problems. For others, it will give a clear indication of an underlying condition, such as dementia.

Sometimes the assessment may not be clear – if this is the case your doctor or nurse will suggest for you to be reassessed over a period of time. We call this ‘watch and wait’. This allows us to see if any early signs or symptoms develop further.

Depression can affect your memory

Sometimes people who are concerned about their memory may be feeling depressed. Depression affects both your memory and concentration and for some people, treating depression also means your memory improves.

Can I reduce my risk of developing dementia?

You can’t eliminate all risk factors for dementia. Age (the most significant factor) is unavoidable. You can’t do anything about your genes either, but you can reduce your risk with a healthy lifestyle. Top tips include:

  • Stop smoking

  • Eat healthily – with lots of fruit and vegetables and limited high fat, sugary or salty foods.

  • Get and stay active

  • Keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Drink in moderation

Keep your mind active – see friends, go to events, do puzzles.

Related information

Older People's health

Older People's Mental Health services

What is dementia? (NHS Choices)

Useful websites

Alzheimer's Society(worried about your memory?)

Our Health website

Information Leaflets

I'm concerned about my memory... what should I do?

Service information for carers