Linda knew something was wrong the day she came home from a church meeting and found that her 82-year-old husband, Bill, had placed a plastic food container on a stove burner. She’d told him to heat up leftover chicken and dumplings for his lunch, but instead of putting them in a pot, Bill had set the container directly on the burner. “Luckily, he’d turned the stove on its lowest setting, and I got home minutes after he’d done it, so our kitchen just smelled like burned plastic for a couple of hours,” says Linda. “But it could have been worse. The incident made me worry that Bill was losing his memory.”
When you begin to notice “little things” going awry in your senior’s memory or thinking, it’s important that you have them screened as soon as possible for cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment occurs when someone is having trouble with the functions of their conscious brain, including memory loss, confusion, trouble concentrating, or difficulty making decisions in everyday life. Cognitive impairment can come on suddenly, or it can happen gradually. Sometimes it can be reversed with treatment, and other times it can be managed. Early screening is essential in the successful treatment of cognitive impairment, so be aware of the following factors that can increase its risk.
Common Risk Factors for Cognitive Impairment
If your senior is taking medication such as sedatives or tranquilizers. Some medications’ side effects can interfere with cognitive function.
If your senior has had a head injury. Even a small bump to the head can sometimes cause bigger problems with brain function.
If your senior has been diagnosed with any neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or Lewy-Body Dementia.
If your senior has any hormonal issues or imbalances, such as with their thyroid or estrogen levels.
If your senior has experienced psychological challenges like depression.
If your senior is age 80 or older. The risk of dementia greatly increases after the age of 80.
If your senior has a history of Type 2 diabetes, or has had a stroke.
There are other risk factors that can cause cognitive impairment, so always make an appointment with their health care provider as soon as you seen signs of forgetfulness, problems concentrating, or any other issues that are causing you concern.
Linda made an appointment with Bill’s primary care physician, and fortunately, they discovered that one of his medications was affecting his memory. His doctor was able to adjust the amount he took, and Bill hasn’t had any further issues.
If you have any concerns about your senior’s cognitive function, but find it difficult to check on them as often as you’d like, contact us! We can work with your family to develop a plan that suits your needs, including daily check-ins, medication management, and transportation to and from medical appointments. We have a strong background caring for people with cognitive impairment, including dementia. Call us today at 828-684-6444 to let us provide your senior with compassionate care, and you with peace of mind.