"These objective measures of cognition used in survey research do correlate with functional impairment," said Dr. Hung. In particular, executive functions that require greater cognitive ability, such as handling money and medications, are more poorly performed at greater levels of cognitive impairment. Extrapolating from past research using the same cognitive test, Dr. Hung and colleagues suggest that their findings would likely be associated with a 22 percent increase in the mean number of difficulties the severe COPD population would experience with daily tasks.
"While this number may not appear to be of major concern on the individual level, on a population level, it is roughly equivalent to nearly a quarter of severe COPD patients experiencing difficulty with a basic life skill," said Dr. Hung. "In this regard, these findings have serious implications. Often patients with cognitive difficulties, if undetected and untreated, have lower adherence to their treatment and follow-up regimens, and as a consequence may deteriorate more rapidly and have worse health outcomes."
In conclusion, Dr. Hung suggested that physicians and other clinical staff managing the care of these patients should be aware of their increased risk for cognitive decline and the greater needs and challenges associated with caring for cognitively impaired older adults.
Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
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