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Resource type: Article

Cognitive impairment: what is it?

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What is cognitive impairment?

Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering things, learning new things, concentrating, solving problems or making decisions that affect their everyday life. This might include things like having difficulty planning or carrying out everyday tasks such as following a recipe, doing your shopping, managing money or driving. It can be a common or normal part of getting older.

Is it common after Intensive Care?

Cognitive impairment can be a common or normal part of getting older, but is also a known side effect of spending time in Intensive Care. It's very difficult to give accurate figures on the number or age of patients affected as the available research varies enormously.

Will it get better?

Research suggests that some people's cognitive status will stay the same but remain stable while others may improve or get worse.