Heres a common modern-day scenario: You are driving a child to an athletic practice and reviewing spelling words along the way, when you remember that you need to pick up the dry-cleaning. You make a mental note to do so.
Thats cognitive multitasking at its best. According to Wests research, you may be capable of mental juggling now, but you probably will not be as flexible when youre older.
Wests studies examine how effectively older adults can strive for and achieve a goal in the face of distractions. From youth to old age, does the ability to do two things well at the same time change? His findings:In normal aging, a person may be able to do one thing or the other thing perfectly, but not two together.
If an elderly person is boiling water and is distracted by a ringing telephone, goal interruption may be obvious: The pot gets forgotten and boils over. If an elderly person is driving and receives too many mixed signals and distractions along the way, the experience may become considerably more complex.
What does that mean for caregivers? West sees it mostly as a challenge for caregivers to revise expectations.I think its easy to overlook this change, to project our own experiences onto someone else.For example, just because you can drive and handle rambunctious children doesnt mean your older parent should.