According to the Emory University Dementia Research Center, some cognitive (thinking) skills decline with normal aging, while others remain stable:
While some cognitive skills generally remain stable throughout the aging process, others decline, including recent memory and processing speed.
Other factors can contribute to cognitive changes:
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and is not part of normal aging. Symptoms worsen over time due to irreversible damage to nerve cells in the brain.
There are seven stages associated with Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s Association, 2015):
A number of behaviors are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, including aggression, agitation, disturbed sleep, confusion, sundowning, and wandering. Growing research evidence suggests interventions in the built environment can reduce these behaviors for many people (Calkins, 2001; Joseph, 2006; Ulrich Et Al., 2008).
Andringa, T. C., & Lanser, J. J. (2013). How pleasant sounds promote and annoying sounds impede health: A cognitive approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(4), 1439-1461. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10041439
Calkins, M. (2001). Creating successful dementia care settings Vol. 1-4. Baltimore: Health Professions Press.
Capachi, C. (2012). Shhhh: UH project tamps down hospital noise, raises patients’ satisfaction. Retrieved from: http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2012/08/sssh_uh_project_tamps_down_hos.html
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2014). Summary of HCAHPS survey results April 2012 to March 2013 discharges. Baltimore, MD: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Flynn, E., Barker, K., Gibson, J., Pearson, R., Smith, L., & Berger, B. (1996). Relationships between ambient sounds and the accuracy of pharmacists’ prescription-filling performance. Human Factors, 38(4), 614-622.
Joseph, A. (2006). Health promotion by design in long-term care settings. Concord, CA: The Center for Health Design.
Ulrich, R., Zimring, C., Zhu, X., DuBose, J., Seo, H., Choi, Y., Quan, X., and Joseph, A. (2008). A review of the research literature on evidence-based healthcare design (Part II). Health Environments Research & Design Journal 1(3), Spring, 61-126.
United States Pharmacopeia (USP). (2010). General Chapter (1066) physical environments that promote safe medication use. United States Pharmacopeia, National Formulary, USP 34–NF 29.