Cognition refers to a person’s thinking. It is a process wherein sensory input is being transformed, interpreted, stored, and used. It includes the utilization of a person’s memory, comprehension, and the ability to reason, calculate, and solve problems. As people grow old, there are changes that occur in their brain affecting their ability to think and behave. These changes may result to positive behavioral and comprehension improvements, these can also lead to impairment and disorders. That is why cognitive assessments are being made – to identify a person’s cognitive abilities and recognize any presence of cognitive functioning impairment.
Anyone can have their cognitive status assessed. However, the people who really need to be evaluated are:
People who have memory concerns
People who are experiencing personality change
People who went through traumatic events which may have caused damage psychologically
The common conditions in which cognitive impairment are diagnosed include:
Dementia is the term used to refer to extreme loss of mental ability for a person to function normally. It is a result of a brain injury or a progressive damage to the brain caused by a serious disease and physical failure. Dementia may be very common to people aging 65 and above but it can also happen to people younger than 65. Dementia is not the disease per se. It is only a general term that refers to a lot of symptoms resulting from brain deterioration.
Alzheimer’s disease is an example and the most common type of dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for almost 80% of the cases of dementia. Vascular dementia is the disease that refers to brain damage resulting from cerebrovascular problems.
Delirium is a state of severe disorientation and confusion. It can be an effect of a disease that affects the brain like infections, and drug or substance abuse. Two of the most common symptoms of delirium are delusions and hallucinations. However, these symptoms are not necessarily required to diagnose delirium. In order to treat delirium, you need to get down to the organic causes of the disease.
Depression, in its worst form, results to severe decline in the mental capacity of a person. This unusually happens to people of younger ages, but its presence in old people is absolutely obvious. Late-life depression is one of the major causes of a decline in the cognitive abilities of a person. In fact, a history of depression creates more risk for a person to acquire Alzheimer’s disease.