Cognitive Issues in Seniors: Everything You Need To Know
A decline in cognitive skills is a scary, but common part of aging. Although it can be difficult to watch your loved ones go through this, there are ways you can help them: recognizing the symptoms, knowing when to seek assisted living and ways you can help prevent their cognitive skills from declining.
Recognizing the Symptoms
As we age, so does our brain. Its functionality weakens, causing our cognitive skills to deteriorate. You may notice your loved one having a hard time remembering things, concentrating, learning, and making decisions. These can seem like harmless mistakes, but they can be the onset of something more serious.
Although aging is a prevalent sign of cognitive issues, there are more severe cases that need to be addressed. When you notice a change in your loved one’s cognitive health, it is best to seek medical advice to see if there is a more serious cause such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, and stroke underlying these cognitive mishaps.
Types of Cognitive Impairment
Your loved one can experience cognitive impairment on multiple levels. Those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) experience more cognitive issues than is normal for their age, but are still able to go about their lives with little to no problems and live independently. Severe cognitive impairment (SCI) affects one more significantly. The lives of those with SCI are considerably debilitated as they may lose the ability to eat, talk, write, have confusion on their identity and have poor judgment. SCI makes it hard for those who have it to live independently, so assisted living is recommended for health and safety reasons.
Signs of Cognitive Issues
1. Mood Swings
2. Trouble remembering people, places, or memories
3. Repetitive questions/stories
4. Difficulty concentrating
5. Poor decision making/ judgment choices
6. Decline in vision
7. Struggling to find the “right words”
8. Misplace items on a regular basis
9. Having trouble processing things
How You Can Help
As hard as it is seeing your loved one suffer cognitive issues, there are ways you can help slow down the memory decline process.
1. Reduce Stress:
Stress affects our health by impairing learning and memory. To help your loved one relieve stress, try exercising, meditation and/or deep breathing with them. This will not only help reduce stress in them and you, but allow you to bond with your loved one.
2. Maintain Good Health:
Make sure your loved one is going to the doctor for regular check-ups and treating any medical conditions that can impair thinking. If they are taking multiple medications, make sure to check with a physician for any interactions among them that could cause impairment. Make sure they are following a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables with antioxidants (blueberries, strawberries, broccoli,etc.) and fats like olive oil, which are known to help brain function, as well as, protect the brain from neuron degeneration.
3. Mental Stimulation:
Keep your loved one on top of their cognitive health by stimulating their brain through exercises such as reading, adult education courses and more. The more their brain is challenged, the better the brain is protected from developing Alzheimer’s.
4. Active Strategies:
You can help your loved one’s stay on top of their cognitive health by helping them formulate routines/strategies to follow to improve memory. This can include making them put their keys in the same place every day or simply having a bedtime routine. External techniques, such as having a calendar with events/appointments written on it or a day-by-day pillbox. You can also help your loved one process new information by repeating new information such as names out loud with them and helping them come up with word recognition to recall a person, place or thing.
You don’t have to sit back and watch your loved one’s cognitive health deteriorate and feel helpless. Be aware of the symptoms and when to know it’s time they are moved into assisted living. Work with your loved one to help them maintain their brain function by doing activities to reduce stress, eating healthy, enrolling them in adult classes, and coming up with routines and strategies to keep their brain active.
Thank You to Our Guest Blog Writer:
Melissa Andrews, Content Marketing Strategist
Paradise Living Centers
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