Assessment of cognition in older people
Cognitive impairment is the most feared aspect of growing old
- By: Katie F M Marwick, Susan D Shenkin
Cognitive impairment in older people is increasingly common and is often missed. Widely available standardised tests make it easy to assess routinely the cognition of inpatients aged 65 years or older. Formal screening allows earlier identification of cognitive impairment and speeds up access to appropriate treatment, services, and support.
Cognitive impairment is a reduced ability to think, focus, or remember, and it is the most feared aspect of growing old.1 It is common2 and important,3 but underdiagnosed4 and undertaught. You will meet people with cognitive impairment daily in your clinical practice, but you may not detect it if cognitive assessment is not part of your routine clinical examination. This article provides a simple and systematic approach to its assessment in people aged 65 or older.
Cognitive impairment can be caused by any damage to the brain, such as head injury, stroke, infection, learning disability, or some mental illnesses. The commonest