How can my dad with dementia remember something that happened less than a week ago, but can't remember what I told him minutes ago?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 27, 2016
Lips asked...

How can my father remember that his license was recently revoked (less than a week ago) but he can't remember something I told him minutes ago?

Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

Dementia is a strange disease and what you described is not unusual. I think that having his license revoked was a pretty dramatic event. It's is usually more difficult for men to give up driving than it is for women...perhaps something to do with being the head of the family.

Community Answers

Frena answered...

memory is not just a thread running along the top of the surface. it is many layered. it is also stored in different parts of the brain, by the way. the frontotemporal lobe, in the front of the brain behind your forehead, is the target for much of the physical deterioration which marks dementia and it also is the central ruler of short-term memory. longterm memory is stored in various other areas of the brain, often according to its category (creative, visual, sense-based, feeling, pleasure, physical co-ordination) i'm sure your dad's loss of license is referenced in several areas of the brain, creating a strong network of reminders. what you just said -- short-term memory only, not stored, brain damage area. i suggest you don't take it personally. dementia is really not all about us.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I can't really add anything to the memory loss, except that my husband who is 81, seems to be going through the same thing. He is still driving, but looking a bit 'iffy' just trying to let him as long as he is not making the same mistakes, which so far are not real dangerous. He seems to drive over the same curbs near our home, a little less exacting on 'turns' 'parking' etc. He asked me what I had for dinner tonight (he went to a meeting about 2 mi. from the house), so I told him and within 10 min. asked me again "what did you have for dinner"..I said "oh, I told you" and he was able to remember within the next 10 min. or so. I try to get him to remember things and do it as kindly as possible. He has really bad hearing and most of the time he blames his forgetfulness on 'not hearing' or some other excuse.