As you age, it’s common to find yourself forgetting where you put your keys more often, or not remembering the names of people you’ve known for years. While forgetfulness can be a natural part of aging, it may also be the sign of a mild cognitive impairment.
Around 15-20% of people ages 65 and older have some form of mild cognitive impairment. Symptoms of cognitive decline can stay stable for years or improve over time, with little impact on your daily life. In some instances, however, mild cognitive impairment can develop into dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
It can be worrisome when you or a loved one starts experiencing cognitive changes, but it doesn’t always indicate a more serious type of dementia. Dr. Richard Abbey, and our team at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic in Palo Alto, California, provide assessments for cognitive decline and offer therapies to help slow down and minimize these changes. Here are some signs of cognitive decline you should know.
Signs of cognitive decline
The signs of cognitive decline may be hard to spot when they don’t have a significant impact on your regular social functioning, family life, or work performance. In fact, the signs may be so subtle that your friends and family start noticing changes before you do.
Signs that you may be experiencing cognitive decline include:
- Forgetting appointments and dates
- Forgetting recent conversations and events
- Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by making decisions and plans
- Having a hard time understanding directions or instructions
- Losing your sense of direction
- Losing the ability to organize tasks
- Becoming more impulsive
Many people with mild cognitive impairment also have symptoms of depression and anxiety, and become more irritable and easily aggravated.
Diagnosing cognitive decline
So how do you know if your symptoms are natural signs of aging or indicate more serious cognitive decline? We offer extensive neuropsychological assessments that look at your cognitive, emotional, and social functioning to help make a diagnosis.
Through these assessments, we can test things like memory, language, visual-spatial abilities, and problem-solving ability to get an idea of your level of cognitive decline. These tests also help us make a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, if either one is present.
Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we can create a treatment plan to help slow your symptoms.
Treating cognitive decline
A variety of evidence-based therapies exist that can help rebuild your cognitive reserve and retrain your cognitive processes so that any impairment slows down. At Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic, we use:
- Cogmed Working Memory Training®
- Light therapy
- Cyclic variations in adaptive conditioning (CVAC)
The therapy we use for you depends on the level of cognitive impairment and your specific needs.
If you’re concerned about signs of cognitive decline in yourself or a loved one, we can help. Contact our office by phone at 650-215-6840, or by scheduling an appointment online today.