Elderly Face Cognitive Decline Prior to Death
The most difficult phase in one’s life is growing old. An active person has to adjust to the decline in mental faculties, which impair his or her performance levels. After all, slowly becoming helpless can result in mental agony. One may not be able to enjoy life as one did in one’s younger days. Of course, even the elderly do find ways and means to recreate themselves, but the physical changes that take place can be depressing and unbearable at times.
Recently, the focus has been on the declining process of mental faculties among the elderly that occur over a period of time before one’s death. Researchers felt the need to observe the elderly to understand the physical changes occurring in them during their old age in order to facilitate their old age treatment processes.
Highlights of Swedish Researchers on Elderly Cognitive Faculties
Ageing persons will experience decline in mental skills almost 15 years prior to their death, even though they may remain free of dementia. Their spatial reasoning, perceptual speed, verbal ability are specific aspects of this cognitive decline, which are not necessarily due to the ageing process according to Swedish researchers.
The study findings appear in the August issue of Neurology.
The “terminal declining phase” occurring before one’s death unfolds many other ailments such as the beginning of heart disease, lack of sufficient mental and physical exercise, or even dementia at a nascent stage, which cannot be detected.
Valgeir Thorvaldson, psychology, Goteborg University in Sweden is of the view there could be a decline in cognitive abilities prior to one’s death. There is a pattern in the terminal decline of an individual even if he or she is not suffering from dementia. The decline occurs over a period of time.
The researchers observed the mental skills of 288 residents of Goteberg, from 70 years onwards until their death, which in most cases occurred at 84.
Over a period of 30 years each participant had to undergo 12 tests concerning their mental health. They were also observed for dementia.
The Swedish researchers concluded that the elderly did undergo decline in mental faculties, even if the condition was not due to age and dementia. Verbal ability decline occurred six years prior to death, whereas spatial reasoning decline took place eight years prior to death.
Such findings help the mental health professionals in understanding the mental decline process in the aged.
The elderly need to be taken care of in the best way possible. Understanding their problems is a stepping stone to eradicating such problems. Researchers continue to resolve them in the best way possible. The Swedish team has also made a similar attempt.
Source: US News