10 Signs a Cognitive Assessment is Needed
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.
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
Notable change in mood or personality
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.