Speed of processing in older adults: a cognitive overview for nursing

J Neurosci Nurs. 2009 Dec;41(6):290-7. doi: 10.1097/jnn.0b013e3181b6beda.


With advancing age, subtle declines in various cognitive abilities occur. One ability that is particularly important as people age is speed of processing. Speed of processing is suggested to impact other cognitive abilities; in fact, some studies suggest that other cognitive abilities depend on speed of processing as a foundational cognitive resource. Studies also indicate that declines in speed of processing influence everyday functioning and driving behavior. Fortunately, cognitive remediation therapy designed to improve speed of processing has been shown to accentuate speed of processing and everyday functioning in older adults. Nurses are in a unique position to listen to patient's cognitive complaints and can offer suggestions and referrals to help older adults maintain this cognitive ability. Implications for nursing research are posited.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Automobile Driving
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Research
  • Reaction Time / physiology*