10 Signs a Cognitive Assessment is Needed

cognitive assessment

As we age gracefully, it can be difficult to know if the change in your, or your loved ones, cognitive status is related to the normal aging process, or if it could mean something more.  The changes may be subtle – such as misplacing your keys or forgetting someone’s name.  Or it could be more significant – such as driving to a familiar store and forgetting how to get home.  Distinguishing between normal and a cause for concern can be a perplexing journey, and a cognitive assessment is paramount in determining if the changes are normal.

Normal Aging

Retraces steps to find misplaced items

Gets lost momentarily in an unfamiliar place

Writes reminders for important tasks

Does not fall

Plans a party but at a slower pace

Selects clothes based on the weather

Has some difficulty remembers names

Reads and comprehends well

Occasionally repeats a question

Stable mood and personality

Signs a Cognitive Assessment Is Needed

Unable to locate lost items

Gets lost in a familiar place

Writes reminders for daily activities

Has repeated falls

Is unable to plan events

Dresses inappropriately for the weather

Often has difficulty finding the right words

Is no longer interested in reading

Repetitive questioning

Notable change in mood or personality

Professional Evaluation

A professional cognitive assessment is necessary to determine whether cognitive changes are part of the normal aging process or indicative of a more serious condition.  Consult with your healthcare provider, such as a neurologist, geriatric specialist, or a neuropsychiatrist for evaluation and diagnosis.  The evaluation may include testing that can be completed in the office, or they may be conducted at a specialized center, such as a radiology center.  Being honest about the changes will help your provider come to the correct diagnosis.

Lifestyle and Cognitive Health

Embracing a lifestyle that includes your brain health is important, no matter what your age.  Regular exercise, eating a well-balanced diet and engaging in daily brain challenging activities contribute to cognitive well-being.  Try activities that make you pause and put thought into coming to the correct answer.  Word search, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and trivia games are great choices.  This type of lifestyle may prevent or delay cognitive decline.

Having a Conversation

Discussing changes in cognition can be a sensitive topic for many, but open conversation has many benefits.  Share your concerns with someone you trust and who is non-judgmental.  The conversation should not make the person dealing with the changes feel afraid or worried.  Early detection in cognitive changes can influence the outcome, for the better, and starting communication contributes to enhanced support and treatment.


Distinguishing between normal cognitive changes and potential health issues can be complex.  Occasional forgetfulness is a process of aging, but persistent and concerning symptoms indicate the need for a cognitive assessment.  This will provide support and clarity as you navigate through changes in cognitive health.  If you aren’t sure whether you should seek an evaluation or if you have difficulty discussing this subject, please contact us for a complimentary phone consultation.