Friday, July 15, 2016

Poor Cognition

Cognition is another word for “thinking.”  Cognition is the process that is used to understand and interact with the world around us.  Cognition is also used to describe how our brain functions in order to perceive and interpret our experiences.  Impaired cognition means that the skills and abilities that a person once had, either before an accident or a medical condition, may now be absent or have some important defect that is noticeable by others.

With age you may notice that memories may start to fade and that you or your loved ones begin to become forgetful causing difficulty in doing tasks that used to be second nature.  Cognitive impairment begins to happen when there are problems with the way you process your thoughts and actions.  Cognitive impairment can include loss of higher reasoning skills, simple forgetfulness, learning disabilities, difficulties in concentration, decreased intelligence, and other declines in mental functions.  Cognitive impairment can occur at any point in lifespan and development and puts an individual at increased risk for developing dementia.

The causes of poor cognition are not fully understood.  With age conditions such as stroke, dementia, delirium, brain tumors, chronic alcohol use, substance abuse, vitamin deficiencies, and other chronic diseases may be the cause of your poor cognition.  On the other hand, poor cognition could just be from a lack of sleep or from an increase in pain.  Also, any sort of head injury or infection of the brain or spinal cord can cause poor cognition at any age.  There are some risk factors that are strongly linked to developing poor cognition which include advancing age, family history of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, and other conditions that raise the risk for cardiovascular disease. 

An individual with poor cognition may have a noticeable decline in their self-confidence and their relationships with family and friends may start to deteriorate because of the difficulty in fully understanding what is going on around you.  Individuals may also begin to doubt their abilities and fear others, which could result in withdrawal from social activities.  Also after more and more time passes the individual may continue to lose hope that they will regain the abilities they have lost and that their future may not be so bright anymore.

In some cases, poor cognition may be reversible if the underlying cause is determined and treatment is provided.  In fact, what is observed to be poor cognition may actually just be an acute illness that can easily be treated without causing permanent cognitive decline.  You or your loved one should seek medical care promptly for any new onset of poor cognition, or if an existing condition is observed to worsen, or it begins to affect the way you go about your daily life.  Following are reasons to seek immediate emergency care related to poor cognition:

ü  Sudden onset of cognitive impairment
ü  If poor cognition is accompanied by a fever of greater than 101 degrees
ü  Neck stiffness or rigidity
ü  Development of a rash
ü  Head injury
ü  Changes in level of consciousness or alertness
ü  Flushed or dry skin
ü  Severe nausea and vomiting
ü  Fruity breath

The quicker you or your loved one seeks medical attention, the more successful your treatment will most likely be.  Total Home Health has a program that is right for you.  Our professional and compassionate staff understands how taxing caring for someone with a cognitive decline can be for the families involved.  We will be there for you during these difficult times and educate you on ways that you can better cope with your loved one.  Total Home Health will ensure safety and work to maintain the self-esteem of your loved one at all times, by working to find ways for them to adjust to the changes poor cognition has brought into their life.  Our staff is patient, empathetic, and nonjudgmental at all times and will provide the best care possible, enroll today!


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