What is cognitive decline?

Cognitive decline is when a person consistently has difficulty remembering, concentrating, learning new things, thinking clearly or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Typical signs of cognitive decline include:

  • Loss of memory, particularly short-term memory
  • Increasing confusion
  • Reduced concentration
  • Impaired judgement
  • Language problems
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Personality or behavior change

Whether this decline is temporary or ongoing depends on the underlying cause or causes.


What causes cognitive decline?

Cognitive decline in older adults can be caused by a variety of things, including medication side effects, metabolic or endocrine imbalance, delirium due to illness or dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most common type.


What is dementia?

Dementia is an overall term for a group of brain diseases associated with cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia and sometimes Parkinson’s disease.

Dementia usually begins gradually and worsens over time. It is a continuum of decline, as shown below.

Stage 1Stages 2 & 3Stage 4
Individuals normally need little or no
help with their daily activities.

May still drive, work and participate in favourite activities.

Increasing level of care required as
cognitive abilities decline and daily life is disrupted. Routine tasks become difficult; personality and behavior changes are common.Care is generally provided by family members or friends, supported by formal/professional caregivers (if they can be afforded).

These are the people most in need
of community support


Individuals become bed-bound and physical health is impaired.

Round-the-clock care is required, often in a memory care facility.

CarePartners Initiative is focused primarily on families in Stages 2 and 3.
There is no medical cure for dementia. But, with the proper support, people with the disease and those who take care of them can still enjoy a quality life.