Cognitive Impairments - What you need to know.

What exactly is cognitive impairment?

 Cognitive impairment is not an illness, but a description of someone's condition. It means they have trouble with things like memory or paying attention. They might have trouble speaking or understanding, they might have difficulty recognising people, places or things and might find new places or situations overwhelming.

Family and friends might notice that someone with cognitive impairment is confused, agitated, or very moody. They might notice a change in their speech or behaviour, or that they have difficulty with their usual daily tasks.

Cognitive impairment can come and go, it can also be mild,  severe, or anything in between.


How can this affect my loved one?

Cognitive impairments can affect a person's ability to perform daily functional tasks. Some examples include the inability to formulate, plan and execute a process without structure, initial support or guidance. Impact may be seen in areas such as short-term memory impairments, auditory processing impairments and visual–spatial impairments.

This can be distressing to you and your loved one. Seeking professional support can help ease the burden and trauma.


How can Occupational Therapy Help? 

Occupational Therapists can create changes that can help people with cognitive impairment rediscover their independence and live their lives as closely as they did prior to the change.

Occupational Therapists aim to reintroduce meaning and value to daily life.

Some of the Occupational therapy interventions include: 

  • Setting up aids, such as reminder apps, to help perform tasks at the right time, and assist with a smooth flow of work activity.
  • When auditory processing impairments are present, training the person in compensation strategies.
  • Training individuals on the best ways to engage with the environment when visual impairment is present.
  • Setting appropriate goals to develop rehabilitation that will improve abilities in attention, problem solving and analysis, whilst minimising distraction.
  • Designing relaxation techniques to manage stress and restore effective sleep patterns.
  • Understanding and addressing the person’s mental health to assist successful functioning with the aim to resume a valued and productive life that supports their self-esteem.
  • Assessing the prospect of resuming driving, which can significantly affect a person’s ability to return to work. Some practices have specialist driving programs, however general occupational therapy practices can also undertake driving assessments.

Our Occupational Therapists maximise the opportunities to integrate methods that empower people with cognitive impairments and through occupational therapy intervention can reintroduce value and confidence back into everyday life.

What should I do next?

If you are unsure on what the next steps are, please give our friendly team at Living Strength OT a call. We can help run you through options, costs and actions to help improve the quality of life of yourself and your loved ones.

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