Dementia Or Just a Cognitive Pothole?

As we get older, all of us notice some change in how we think, process information and remember.

We may have a harder time putting a name to the face we see at the grocery store or remembering the title of that movie we liked so much when we saw it earlier in the year. You know, the one with old What’s His Name?

Cognitive change is an expected rite of passage into our Golden Years. When we run into a few potholes along the road, many of us begin to worry if our destination is senility. We have a vision of ourselves relegated to a wheelchair, twisting our lap-blanket into little sock-puppets again and again.

Most of the time, our worry is misplaced. Our fear of getting dementia is powerful- but that particular outcome is not inevitable. A healthy human brain can keep chugging along well into the start of our second century on Earth. And yes, there are potholes but the journey keeps moving forward.

Dementia does not occur in a healthy brain. There is always a disease process of some sort- Alzheimer’s, vascular change, Parkinson’s, etc. And very often, cognitive change is the first indicator that something out of the ordinary is happening.

The best way to find out if something unusual is occurring is to have neurocognitive testing done by a psychologist with special training in the nexus of brain function and the neurological circuitry of the brain. When the neurological hardware is acting up, changes in how our cognitive software performs is often the best first indicator.

If the test findings indicate there are concerns about cognition, it might be helpful to talk to a professional who understands what this means. Sometimes there are compensatory strategies for working around deficits. Sometimes it is helpful just to talk about the implications and what a changed future means.

If you are worried about your cognition, give Dr. Short a call to arrange for testing and subsequent life planning,

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