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Cognition            

Loss of cognition is one of the most insidious challenges of aging.  Those stricken may not be aware themselves that they no longer have the judgment that they once did.  The law provides that they have legal capacity until a judge finds that they lack “legal competency.”

While forgetfulness is often an early symptom, it can often escalate rapidly to cause fear.  It is frightening to lose control of one’s environment.  It is frightening to no longer be able to respond as one wishes.  It is frightening to find food choices confusing and intimidating.  These fears can mount and cause frequent anxiety attacks. 

Working with people who have diminished capacity calls for a rare fusion of compassion and understanding.  It’s no task for sensitive people.  Some who are stricken lose their sense of proportion and complain bitterly about trivia, blaming staff and others for not meeting their unarticulated needs.  Others begin to curse unreservedly and to respond violently toward those who care for them or even toward those who love them.

People who witness the loss of cognition in those they live with have needs of their own and are best served if they, too, can receive supportive counseling and respite relief.

While some vendors argue that games for the elderly can stave off cognitive decline, the evidence is inconclusive.  It appears that the best antidote is a productive, active life including the mental challenges that are a part of everyday life, i.e. the ordinary stresses of daily independent living.

 

Trying to Cope

Picture an aging person, perhaps your mother or your father, facing a move to a new home.  The future beckons brightly but this once proud matriarch or patriarch, head of a loving family, now sits forlornly fingering a minor object unable to decide whether to bring it to the new home or to leave it behind in the old. Dementia at any stage is insidious and demeaning.

Below are some materials to help those affected to come to grips with what lies ahead.

Click on the topics below to access content

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Dementia Care Case Perspective: Last Passage
   
Memory in the Aging Mind Research on Aging
Cognitive Aging: Donald M. Gragg, MD, PhD  

 

     

 

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