What is Cognitive Impairment?
Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe. With mild impairment, people may begin to notice changes in cognitive functions, but still be able to do their everyday activities. Severe levels of impairment can lead to losing the ability to understand the meaning or importance of something and the ability to talk or write, resulting in the inability to live independently. (CDC)
What are the symptoms?
A few commons signs of cognitive impairment include the following:
• Memory loss.
• Frequently asking the same question or repeating the same story over and over.
• Not recognizing familiar people and places.
• Having trouble exercising judgment, such as knowing what to do in an emergency.
• Changes in mood or behavior.
• Vision problems.
• Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks, such as following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. (CDC)
What are the stages?
Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe. Most doctors identify three main stages of Alzheimer’s disease — mild, moderate, and severe. Because each stage of dementia can last for several years or more, it can also be helpful to understand whether your loved one seems to be in the early, middle, or late part of each stage.
State of technology
The technology available to support those with dementia (and their caregivers) is emerging from the laboratory and various startup environments, and evolving rapidly.
• PEAT - An Android app for people with cognitive challenges.
• B.A. Bar - a voice output bar code communication aid, cognitive aid, and speech teaching device
• COACH (Cognitive Orthosis for Assisting with activites in the Home)
Impact facts and figures
Age is the greatest risk factor for cognitive impairment, and as the Baby Boomer generation passes age 65, the number of people living with cognitive impairment is expected to jump dramatically. An estimated 5.1 million Americans aged 65 years or older may currently have Alzheimer’s disease, the most well-known form of cognitive impairment; this number may rise to 13.2 million by 2050. Cognitive impairment is costly. disease and related dementias alone are estimated to be the third most expensive disease to treat in the United States (CDC).
Alzheimer’s Association • Caring.com • Home Instead • Family Caregiver Alliance