3.4 - Cognitive Barriers

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Cognitive barriers disrupt cognitive functions, and decision-making involves several cognitive functions. Do you sometimes find your brain uncooperative when you are trying to think through a decision? Examples of cognitive barriers include:

Organization / Planning

  • Problem:
    • You can't find your supporting documentation or are unprepared for the decision because of disorganization.
  • Consequence:
    • You get frustrated and may give up, letting indecision take over and lose control over the outcome.
  • Strategy:
    • Keep paperwork and electronic files in the same place each time (i.e., Noteability app).


  • Problem:
    • You cannot remember (and track) all the parts of a decision.
    • When you run into a glitch, you become paralyzed and don't remember what to do.
  • Consequence:
    • You could get stuck at any stage of the decision-making process or feel like you are constantly reinventing the wheel.
  • Strategy:
    • Create a checklist in the BEST Suite app: CueMyList using the decision-making steps as checklist items.


  • Problem:
    • You cannot verbalize the words necessary (i.e., aphasia) to describe ideas, places, people, or things related to your decisions. The words seem to be stuck on the tip of your tongue.
  • Consequence:
    • You feel misunderstood because of an inability to come up with the right words, or you are just speechless.
  • Strategy:
    • Slow down, take a moment to breathe, and collect your thoughts before speaking. Aphasia is a common communication problem when you have cognitive challenges, so communicating your thoughts and ideas can be cumbersome. Write down the thoughts you want to convey before sharing your ideas. For more tips, see Aphasia Communication Tips by National Aphasia Association.
      [Note to caregivers (friends & family too): If you see them concentrating/focusing on making a decision, be patient and do not interrupt. Wait for them to ask for your input. It may take them longer to process information, ultimately resulting in added frustration and/or anxiety. Wait for them to ask for your input.]

Questions to ponder...

  • Can you think of a time where planning or lack of planning impacted a decision?
  • Do you have trouble conveying your decision and/or decision-making process?

Try the FREE BEST app: CueMyList for help with sequencing, staying on target with time, and time planning.

Above we've provided just a few of the cognitive barriers associated with decision making. If you're curious about other cognitive barriers, you can learn about them in our Introduction to Cognitive Rehabilitation course. In that course, we provide definitions, examples, and strategies to help you better understand and overcome these barriers. Use the "IWANTMORE" coupon code for a 25% discount on our Introduction to Cognitive Rehabilitation course.

Sources: Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash.com
Aphasia Communication Tips by National Aphasia Association

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