Coping With Cognitive Impairment In A Loved One

Once a person reaches the age of 65, they become more prone to developing certain health conditions. There is often a concern for mental illness among the elderly population, with conditions affecting cognitive abilities being especially common. Between 15% and 20% of people will experience mild cognitive impairment by the age of 65. Unfortunately, many go undiagnosed. In fact, up to 40% of patients may not receive an early diagnosis of dementia and related conditions that cause this issue.

The person with cognitive impairment may not be the only one affected with the diagnosis and symptoms. Families and friends will often also face potential complications when they start to notice the decline in the person’s cognitive functioning, causing them to feel concerned and sometimes depressed. Learning how to cope with a senior that shows signs of cognitive impairment is important. This may ease the burden of the condition on loved ones and allow them to provide better support to the diagnosed individual.


How To Cope With A Loved One Diagnosed With Cognitive Impairment

When signs of cognitive impairment are noticed in a loved one, the first step would be to sit down and consider what is going on. Talking to family members that have also noticed these symptoms appear can be very useful. It is important to ask how the person was before these signs started to become present. Noticing how long the symptoms have been going on can also be useful.

This allows the loved ones to gain a better picture of what may be going on.

The next step would be to gain an official diagnosis. The person expressing signs of cognitive impairment should be taken to a specialist. It will be useful and a good idea to discuss this with the individual first. This is a difficult time in a senior citizen's life, and they may find it hard to be trusting at this point. By openly discussing the situation with them, they may see that you are trying to provide them with support and that you care about their well-being.

A diagnosis will tell the family and friends more about what exactly is going on. A diagnosis needs to be made to recognize the cause of cognitive impairment. Once a diagnosis is obtained, the loved ones should educate themselves on the condition. This will provide more insight into what they should expect in the short and long-term. The specialist making the diagnosis will be able to help the loved ones better understand what is going on – and provide information on how severe the condition is at the time of the diagnosis.

It is crucial to consider the needs of the person diagnosed.

Care requirements of the person will generally fall within specific categories. In most cases, these categories will include:

  • Supervision
  • Emotional care
  • Health care
  • Personal care
  • Household care

It is important to consider the current abilities of the person. Limitations and disabilities caused by cognitive impairment need to be taken into account too. This allows their loved ones to consider what type of care the person may need to experience an appropriate quality of life.


Dealing With Elderly Patients Who Suffer From Cognitive Impairment

Apart from the initial preparation steps, families should also educate themselves on how to deal with the person who suffers the cognitive impairment. There are specific methods that can greatly ease the process of dealing with the individual who received the diagnosis. This can make things significantly easier for both the patient, as well as their families and friends.

The first step would be for the loved ones of the person to be patient. The illness may be worrisome to the patient and cause them to feel both anxious and frustrated. When their families and friends fail to be patient with them, it can aggravate their anxiety and frustration.

Using simpler words and sentences when talking to the person may also be helpful. This can help them understand what is being said easier. This is especially important as the illness continues to worsen.

It is also important to be understanding. The person is suffering from a serious condition. This means they are likely to experience moments where they forget the topic of a conversation. They may forget names and many other factors too. The loved ones of the person may find these scenarios quite frustrating – but it is important to consider the fact that the person is not intentionally doing this.

During the earlier stages of cognitive impairment, families should sit down with the person suffering from the condition. Important decisions need to be made – and it is better to make these decisions while the person has not transitioned to a state of dementia yet.

Apart from these, it is important for the loved ones to consider joining a support group if they are struggling to cope with the situation. There are several support groups that may be helpful. If the individual is not open to speaking in a group setting, then another option would be to seek a consultation with a counselor. This gives the person a one-on-one session to speak to someone about their concerns and frustration.



Cognitive impairment is very common among elderly individuals. The condition often presents with symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Loved ones may often find it difficult to cope with the decline of the person’s memory and cognitive function. There are a few ways that the loved ones can better cope with the situation, while still providing the affected person with the supportive care they may need.