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Elderly parents

85 year old father. He does not remember the date for my mums birthday.

4 replies

NotQuintAtAllOhNo · 22/11/2012 11:48

Is it to be expected?
Is this in the normal realms of what he can be expected to forget due to old age?

He had a stroke 11 years ago, and has some problems with short term memory. But, I should think this would be committed to long term memory?

OP posts:
pippop1 · 22/11/2012 18:15

Yes, not great I'm afraid. If you give a hint e.g. month or date in numbers does he remember it? Could also try offering him one of two dates.

MIL's memory problems started with short term but now long term memory is affected too.

GP visit might be a good idea.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo · 22/11/2012 19:28

He remember it was in November just not the exact date.

OP posts:
CMOTDibbler · 23/11/2012 19:11

Tricky to say - my dad (frail, but no dementia) finds birthdays a bit difficult to remember, but can work it out. My mum otoh, may still know when it is, but if asked can't say it, and couldn't take steps to sort it out.

I think a chat with his gp would be worthwhile

alcibiades · 23/11/2012 21:51

The memory function of the brain is a somewhat strange thing. I do know that when I was working (Mondays and Thursdays) I instantly knew on waking up what day of the week it was. But ever since I retired a few years ago, that's not a priority, and I often don't know what day it is because I don't need to. (Most shops are open every day, the library is open every day, and so on.)

I think it's often a case of priorities in terms of what people can easily recall through short- and long-term memory. And that does vary throughout the years from the very young to the very old.

But I think CMOT's examples of her parents gives a very good clue.

Memories in the brain are usually stored in the brain in a fragmented way. Some memories aren't easily retrieved, even seemingly important ones, because they don't have a high enough priority - sometimes simply because that person is focussing on other things and is confident that others will remind them.

But sometimes it's because the mechanism for connecting up those fragmented memories isn't working so well.

It could be an issue of cognitive function, it could be a symptom of depression or low energy, it could be an emotional response (your mum is in a nursing home, I think?), it could be an infection as UTIs are notorious for disrupting thinking especially in older people. An assessment by your dad's GP is the starting point to figuring out what's going on.

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