Many families have not reunited for a holiday since pre-pandemic 2019, and in these two years seniors have faced multiple barriers to cognitive health, including social isolation. Interacting with an older family member after an extended length of time can sometimes be a surprising experience. However, is critical to realize that there are normal cognitive changes associated with aging. Research shows that cognitive ability peaks at about age 30, (wow!), and then slowly declines.
Examples of normal cognitive changes related to aging are:
• Losing items occasionally, but often finding them shortly thereafter (for example, losing your glasses but then retracing your steps and finding them)
• Occasionally forgetting names of new people or new places (for example, forgetting the name of a new restaurant that opened in town)
• Difficulty multi-tasking (for example, difficulty carrying on complex conversation while driving)
• Slower problem solving abilities (for example, taking longer to complete bills)
While some changes in cognition are normal as one ages, there are many abnormal cognitive changes, some of which are described below:
• Consistently misplacing items, often in unusual places (for example, placing pens in the refrigerator)
• Forgetting the names of close friends or relatives (for example, unable to recall brother’s name)
• Difficulty concentrating on one task (for example, difficulty sustaining attention to making the bed)
• Frequent poor judgment (for example, wandering away from the home and crossing a busy road during rush hour)
If any changes in cognitive status are noted, it is best to discuss these first with a physician, as there are many medical causes of cognitive changes, and some are reversible. A detailed cognitive assessment by a speech-language pathologist or neuropsychologist should be recommended to explore changes in cognition.
At Speech By The Beach Consulting LLC in Naples, Florida we offer comprehensive cognitive communication evaluations. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 239-631-1988.
Christina Freise Pollitt is a Speech-Language Pathologist in Naples, Florida. She evaluates and treats pediatric and adult clients in her private practice, Speech By The Beach Consulting LLC.