Owners' Blog

Do You Know What Puts Cognitive Health at Risk?

By Hilary and Greg Eldridge

When an older adult shows signs of memory loss or confusion, you may immediately worry about dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. While those are very real concerns for family caregivers of older adults, there are many other things that can cause cognitive problems. Some of them cause long-term cognitive problems, but some of them are only temporary.

Common Causes of Memory Loss

Some causes of memory loss cannot be controlled, such as those caused by genetic factors. Other causes may be preventable or changed through lifestyle changes. Some things that can cause memory loss are:

  • Health Problems: Some health conditions, like heart disease and high blood pressure, can increase the risk of stroke. A stroke can damage the brain and cause cognitive impairment. Depression can also confusion or problems with attention.
  • Lack of Sleep: When a person does not sleep well, they may be fatigued, which can interfere with thinking. One of the things that can make sleeping difficult is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure or stroke. It can also cause memory problems.
  • Malnutrition: When an older adult doesn’t get enough of the right nutrients, like proteins and fats, their brain may suffer.
  • Medications: Certain medications can have side effects that affect memory. Drugs that might have memory loss as a side effect include antihistamines, sleeping pills, some painkillers, and antidepressants.
  • Stress or Anxiety: High levels of stress or anxiety may lead to memory loss and problems paying attention.


What Home Care Can Do to Help

The good news is that all of the factors in memory loss listed above are controllable. Home care can help seniors to avoid memory loss in all of these situations. Here’s how:

  • Health Problems: Home care providers can assist in managing medical conditions by reminding older adults to take their medications. They can also drive seniors to their medical appointments.
  • Lack of Sleep: Home care providers can help seniors to sleep better by establishing a bedtime routine that signals their body that it is time to sleep. A care provider can help create an environment for sleeping by drawing blinds, managing the room temperature, ensuring the senior does not use a heated blanket for extended periods, etc.
  • Malnutrition: There are many things that can cause an older adult not to eat well. If the problem is that the senior cannot drive to the grocery store, a home care provider can drive them. If they have difficulty feeding themselves because of a physical impairment, a home care provider can assist them. Home care providers can also do the cooking.
  • Medications: A home care provider can watch for side effects from medications and tell family caregivers about them. Also, a home care provider can supervise while the senior takes their medicine, ensuring they take the proper amount.
  • Stress or Anxiety: Having a home care provider to assist with many of the things that can cause a senior to feel stressed or anxious can lower their stress levels.


If you notice changes in your aging relative’s memory or cognitive abilities, report them to the doctor. You should also report any factors that may be impacting their cognitive health.

Sources

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/risks-cognitive-health

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring homecare in Lilburn, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.