Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16 million US Americans live with some form of perceived cognitive impairment. The majority of these cases occur among older adults aged 50 or older. Given the prevalence of declining cognitive health among the elderly, cognitive decline in older adults is a major US public health concern.

What is Age-Related Cognitive Decline? Is it Normal?

Aging can be a great joy, but it sometimes comes with challenges. One of those challenges is the risk of declining cognitive function. With healthy aging, this decline is gradual and minor; it does not affect day-to-day life. Signs of cognitive function impacted by normal aging include being able to complete complex tasks at a slower pace and being a little slower to remember certain events.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is when cognitive abilities decline beyond healthy aging but have not yet reached the point of a dementia diagnosis. Symptoms of MCI, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), can include:

  • Misplacing objects frequently
  • Forgetting (and missing) appointments
  • Being slower to remember words and communicating (compared to peers)
  • Difficulties with movement
  • Impaired sense of smell

What Causes Age-Related Cognitive Decline?

There is no single cause of decline in cognitive abilities. Instead, there are a wide variety of causes and risk factors that put someone at risk, including the following:

What Can You Do About Cognitive Decline in the Older People?

Watching a loved one develop MCI can be scary, but it’s important to remember that not everyone with MCI develops dementia. In fact, some people living with MCI may even notice an improvement of their symptoms.

It’s not possible to change certain risk factors for this condition like age, race, ethnicity, and family history. That said, there are modifiable risk factors that individuals can take ownership of, including:

Caring for Older Adults Experiencing Cognitive Decline at St. Andrew’s

Everyone at St. Andrew’s cares about the residents in our communities. Our staff members are specially trained to work with residents living with memory problems, which means they are well-suited to crafting a day-to-day schedule that prioritizes your loved one’s well-being.

Communities in the St. Andrew’s network offer several levels of care that are tailored for individuals experiencing memory loss, including:

While cognitive decline in older adults might seem scary, it’s important to remember that an MCI diagnosis doesn’t mean that dementia is a certainty, and there is always support available to your family. Contact us today to learn more about how we approach cognitive decline in older adults.

Disclaimers: This article is for informational purposes only and cannot be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. Please direct any and all healthcare concerns to a licensed healthcare provider.

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