Female caregiver comforts senior man experiencing confusion or brain fog while sitting on couch at home.

Brain Fog in the Elderly: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

Last updated on April 24, 2024

Is your senior having trouble thinking clearly? Do they seem uncharacteristically disorganized or confused?

As a senior loved one ages, their bouts of feeling disoriented or befuddled might automatically make you suspect dementia. In contrast, they may be dealing with brain fog, which is usually temporary and can be resolved. 

What is Brain Fog in the Elderly?

“Brain fog in the elderly” refers to a non-medical condition where seniors experience temporary—but worrisome—confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and dissociation. While brain fog can occur at any age, it's often more prevalent in seniors due to factors such as aging, certain medications, medical conditions, sleep disturbances, and inadequate nutrition.

Seniors with brain fog may forget to take medications, eat, or hydrate properly. Sometimes, they may neglect personal hygiene or become socially isolated. Brain Fog can manifest as forgetfulness, trouble finding words, decreased mental clarity, and reduced ability to perform tasks that require focus and attention.

While brain fog in the elderly is not a cognitive disease, it can indicate an underlying medical problem. The only way to get to the root cause—and help your senior feel better—is to talk with their doctor.

What Causes Brain Fog?

Physiological and environmental factors can cause brain fog in the elderly. Several situations that can trigger brain fog include:

  • Depression or stress
  • Dehydration, which is a common cause of brain fog
  • Lack of sleep
  • Major life changes
  • Medication side effects
  • Nutrition deficits
  • Not taking medications as prescribed
  • Recent hospitalization
  • Underlying health and medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, etc.

With so many variables, it’s important to talk with your senior’s doctor about brain fog. The sooner they get an appropriate diagnosis, the faster you can get to the root of the issue and start making lifestyle and health adjustments.

How Is Brain Fog Different From Dementia?

Unlike dementia, which is progressive and worsens over time, brain fog can be temporary and reversible. Brain fog is a symptom—not a disease—and usually improves when the underlying issues are addressed. 

Some symptoms apply to dementia but not to brain fog. If your senior has any of these symptoms, talk with their doctor:

  • Issues with spatial awareness, such as difficulty navigating familiar surroundings.
  • Mood swings or changes in personality
  • Issues with language, such as slurred and stuttered speech
  • Worsening judgement-making skills and difficulty problem-solving

How Can In-Home Care Help Manage Brain Fog?

Managing brain fog may involve:

  • Addressing underlying health issues
  • Engaging in mental exercises
  • Improving sleep habits
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for proper diagnosis and management. 

Reducing stress and returning to a routine are vital in helping seniors deal with brain fog. Visiting Angels can support these needs and serve as an extra pair of eyes to monitor for changes in their mood or behavior. Professional caregivers can create a safe, healing environment for your senior by providing the following:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting
  • Companion care to prevent stress and sadness from social isolation
  • Reminders to take medications on time
  • Help with following routines of waking, mealtimes, appointments, and bedtime
  • Monitoring of new or changing symptoms

Talk with your senior’s doctor if you are concerned about their memory or mood. Brain fog can be resolved with medical attention—and if the issue is dementia, the sooner your loved one gets treatment, the better their chances of maintaining cognition and independence.

Visiting Angels Is Here to Help

Contact your local home care office to learn how Visiting Angels can support your senior if they are suffering from cognitive issues at home. Schedule a free home care consultation today.

If you're interested in our compassionate home care services for you or a loved one, contact your nearest Visiting Angels home care agency today or call 800-365-4189.
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