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How Does Aging Affect Cognitive Function?

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When we consider aging, most people just think of the effects of age on physical health. However, the brain is also a part of the body that can be altered by age. This part of aging is often ignored unless it develops into dementia, but even perfectly healthy seniors can expect some changes to the way their brain functions. As seniors age, their cognition is often affected in the following ways.

Mental Flexibility Abilities Decrease

Mental flexibility refers to the cognitive ability to change the way of thinking, especially when encountering new data. This ability is highest in very young children, and it gradually reduces as people age. Decreased mental flexibility can make it difficult for seniors to learn new skills or change their preconceived notions, so they tend to get a little set in their ways. Seniors often find it challenging to reason when they encounter unfamiliar materials.

Cognitive decline can make it difficult for seniors to accomplish simple tasks like cooking or driving. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior home care. Plantation families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

Processing Speed Slows

Processing speed is the rate at which the brain performs various cognitive abilities, and it begins slowing in a person’s third decade and continues to reduce over time. Seniors may end up taking longer to recall memories, needing a little extra time to process instructions, or spending more time to find the right words while communicating. Slowed processing speed can also affect things like reaction time, reflexes, and other motor responses.

Paying Attention Becomes More Difficult

Being able to focus on various stimuli is an important part of cognitive thinking, but it’s often difficult for seniors. The elderly only have a slight reduction in the ability to focus on a single thing, but they tend to face difficulty with a cognitive process called selective attention, which means they may find it challenging to ignore irrelevant stimulation and perform complicated tasks such as maintaining a conversation on the phone while driving a car.

To promote your loved one’s mental health and wellbeing, consider hiring an at-home caregiver. If your senior loved one needs professional in-home care in Plantation, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a trusted provider of respite and 24-hour care, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care for seniors.

Certain Types of Memory Skills Are Reduced

One of the main complaints seniors have when discussing cognition is their memory. They may find it difficult to recall words, lists of figures, or practical knowledge. Interestingly, not all types of memory are diminished by old age. Rates of memory loss for past places and events in a senior’s life has a gradual yet steady decrease, while rates of memory loss for information recall and language usage drops sharply as age increases. Memory skills that are more subconscious, such as riding a bike or singing a favorite song, don’t tend to diminish with age.

Executive Functioning Challenges Increase

Executive functioning is a complex ability seniors need to do things like plan their day, think about steps needed to make a meal, or figure out how to fit an unexpected visit into their schedule. This ability drops quickly after the age of 75. Seniors may find they need to write steps down or receive prompts to properly care for themselves.

It’s important to boost your loved one’s mental acuity the reduce the risk of cognitive decline. However, you may have other responsibilities that prevent you from providing the care he or she needs. Whether your elderly loved one needs part-time assistance with basic household chores or you need a break from your caregiving duties, the Plantation respite care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. All of our respite care services are backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (954) 533-2410.

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