Gradual cognitive decline is a normal part of the aging process, but you should keep an eye out for any signs that your senior loved one might be developing mild cognitive impairment, which is essentially the stage between age-related cognitive decline and serious disorders like dementia. Those who catch the early warning signs can usually minimize or delay some of the worst side effects. Here are some of the most common symptoms of cognitive decline.
Issues With Attention
One of the most common side effects of mild cognitive impairment is selective attention. When seniors have selective attention, they purposefully tune out certain stimuli. If you’re on the phone with your loved one or trying to ask a question, he or she might forget to respond entirely. Seniors who seem to have selective attention should immediately meet with a neurologist or dementia specialist to have their cognitive abilities tested.
Limited Processing Speed
Much like computers, each human has a specific processing speed, which refers to the amount of time it takes an individual to carry out a mental task like answering a question or solving a problem. As your loved one grows older, doing simple math or responding to a comment may take more time than usual. Engaging in stimulating activities is a great way to increase processing speed and overall cognitive function. Doing puzzles, playing board games, and taking adult classes are all great options for seniors.
Mild cognitive decline can result in serious financial issues. Over the course of a few months, your loved one could rack up credit card debt or blow through his or her savings. As soon as you notice any financial red flags, you must intervene. In some cases, seniors simply aren’t able to make a budget, which is a relatively easy problem to fix. If your loved one’s money problems spiral out of control, consider taking over his or her finances entirely.
Difficulty Carrying Out Everyday Tasks
While many adults are able to take care of themselves well into the senior years, some begin to have difficulty with everyday tasks in their 60s. Mild cognitive impairment makes it challenging to pay bills, get groceries, pay taxes, maintain a home, and carry out tasks like bathing or doing laundry. You might be able to help your loved one with some of those tasks, but you also have the option of hiring a caregiver. A professional caregiver can come over as often as you’d like to make meals, run errands, and socialize with your loved one.
Emotional Health Changes
Mild cognitive impairment and dementia are often accompanied by sudden emotional health issues such as anxiety, depression, sudden mood swings, paranoia, and poor judgment. Making sure your loved one stays social and active could eliminate or reduce some of those symptoms. At least a few times a week, your loved one should interact with family members, peers, or a caregiver. You can also sign him or her up for classes or social groups at a local senior center.