Aging is an inevitable and unique part of life, but it can be hard to watch our loved ones grow old. This is especially true when we see a cognitive decline in senior citizens. But what does cognitive decline mean for older adults and what can you do to help?
Cognitive decline, otherwise known as cognitive impairment, means the difficulty a senior has to recall information and memories, remain concentrated, and function beyond what is expected with older age. This can be permanent or temporary and is caused by underlying health issues. It can be a natural part of aging.
To learn how cognitive decline works, signs to watch out for, and resources for help, continue scrolling.
What Causes Cognitive Decline?
Forgetfulness is something that we all encounter throughout life, and you may even notice it in yourself as you age! This is true with seniors because as the brain ages, its health can decrease. Cognitive decline is a natural process of someone’s aging experience.
In fact, one study showed that it is normal for the brain’s processing to decline. Crystallized abilities, like memorizing facts and vocabulary, remain steady until around 80 years old. Fluid abilities, or how quickly your brain can process information, steadily decrease from your 20s.
Other times, your brain health can be affected by mood disorders like depression, injuries like concussions or stroke, or other diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. The reasons for someone’s cognitive decline are different for everyone, but overall, it depends on your genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Some lifestyle risks include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
- Smoking, drugs, or alcohol use
- Sleep issues
- Social isolation or loneliness
It is important to observe if your aging loved one show any signs of cognitive decline so that you can take steps to keep them safe, especially if you know they have these risks.
Signs Of Cognitive Decline
Cognitive health is measured by four functions according to the National Institute on Aging: cognitive, motor, emotional, and tactile.
Cognitive function refers to how well you think, learn, and remember. Motor function means how well you make and control your movements and balance. Emotional function relates to how well you interpret and respond to pleasant and unpleasant emotions. Tactile function is how well you feel and respond to pressure, pain, and temperature.
While the four factors are how cognitive health is measured, there are common events that the elderly may go through when they start to see a cognitive decline.
- Forgetting things more often, like appointments or social events.
- Forgetting recent conversations or events.
- Frequently losing your train of thought in a conversation, movie, or book.
- Making impulsive decisions.
- Feeling overwhelmed when making a choice or planning something.
- New problems with speaking or writing.
- Confusion with time or place.
What Can I Do Next?
If you have concerns please reach out to us. Senior Solutions is an organization that helps connect you to local resources that aid seniors whose abilities have declined due to cognitive difficulties.
Specifically, we can connect you to care options such as in-home caregivers, independent living & assisted living facilities. Call us at (208) 821-0955, email us, or use our contact form to learn more!