As you age, just like the rest of your body, your brain goes through a lot of changes. Occasional memory lapses are common; however, if these lapses become a pattern, it may be a sign of a more serious issue. Cognitive decline could be the beginning of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Mild Cognitive Impairment. If you are concerned about the cognitive abilities of your loved one, there are a few simple signs that can help you identify cognitive decline.
Declining memory is one of the first things that people notice about their aging loved ones. Accessing information from the past can become difficult as people age. They may forget names, simple facts, important dates or events, and more. This can be very frustrating, but repetition, multiple choice questions, or word cues can help to trigger memory retrieval and make retaining new information easier.
The brain’s executive system is responsible for planning, problem-solving, multitasking, and impulse control. When people age, these abilities may begin to deteriorate. This can lead to a sense of overwhelming stress when planning for every day activities, making simple decisions, and understanding instructions.
With the decline of the brain’s executive system often comes a struggle to remain attentive. As even a seemingly mundane situation increases in complexity it will require managing multiple things at once, such as walking, maintaining balance, carrying on a conversation, and being aware of surroundings. This can lead to overwhelming demands and over stimulation, which can make it difficult to focus on a single task or concept.
Aging is often accompanied by bradyphrenia, or decelerated mental processing. This will make interpreting and responding to new information a slower process. Slowed mental processing is often the root of other areas of cognitive decline, from memory retrieval to multitasking. With this, can come a deterioration of an individual’s handling of language. Comprehending complex information or recalling certain words and phrases can become increasingly challenging.
Visual-spatial abilities may also become stunted as an individual grows older. As processing and acting on visual stimuli becomes more difficult, navigating even familiar spaces can be problematic. Following directions and estimating distances when walking or reaching for objects becomes harder, which can lead to dangerous falls.
There are several steps you can help your loved ones take at home to deal with cognitive decline. For individuals who experience these symptoms, focusing on one task at a time will relieve anxiety and yield better results. Breaking up larger tasks into smaller, more manageable portions will also make reaching every day goals easier. Simply giving structure to your day by maintaining a schedule and creating to do lists will also relieve stress. Remaining patient and understanding, while encouraging your elderly loved ones to take their time is often the key to helping them to retain as much independence as possible.
If cognitive decline reaches a point that living independently becomes dangerous, seeking professional help is important. At Senior Care Centers, we have the compassionate, qualified staff and state-of-the-art facilities to give your loved ones the comprehensive care they deserve.