Cognition—What it is
Cognition is the ability to make sense of the world. It involves paying attention and organizing incoming information, storing it in memory and using it as needed to cope with the demands of daily life. Cognitive abilities form the foundation for learning. They help people think clearly, plan and solve problems on a daily basis.
Cognitive difficulties not only impair the ability to learn, remember and solve problems, they also affect social interactions and can increase feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.
Changes in cognition can be caused by brain damage due to a stroke, traumatic brain injury, a tumor or other chronic disabilities. Cognitive functioning is also negatively affected by physical inactivity (resulting in less oxygen and blood flow to the brain), pain, medications, stress, anxiety and depression as well as the aging process. Many of these factors can be altered to reduce their impact on cognition.
This module provides an overview of cognitive abilities and examines the impact of certain disabilities on cognition. Finally, it looks at specific cognitive changes and how you, as a caregiver, can support your loved one and use coping strategies and technology to manage or even overcome these cognitive challenges.