The Census Bureau has long gathered information about some of the day-to-day difficulties that people are experiencing at a given time. And there’s been a marked increase in cognitive issues over the past few years.
Exploring the trend
For the sake of the census survey, serious cognitive problems are defined as persistent trouble remembering, concentrating, or making decisions. And in the years since COVID-19, the share of the populations experiencing these issues has been on the rise among people between the ages of 18 and 64.
At the same time, certain physical ailments have been trending downward. According to the latest results, there are now about as many working-age American adults with serious cognitive problems as there are those who have trouble walking or navigating stairs.
The number has reached its highest point in at least 15 years at roughly 1 million.
Long COVID symptoms
One of the most obvious factors at play is long COVID, a chronic set of cognitive ailments that impact a subset of people who are infected with the virus. It’s generally described as a “brain fog” and the issues can last for months or longer.
Some estimates suggest 1 in 4 people who get COVID-19 report cognitive issues several months later. An even smaller group say their ability to think clearly and concentrate is severely impacted for an even longer period of time.
But while long COVID is clearly one cause of the spike in serious cognitive problems, it’s probably not the only one. It does appear, however, that the pandemic is a central culprit.
Aside from the direct symptoms of the disease, medical professionals point to the isolation and fear that accompanied COVID-19 as causes of psychological distress that can manifest itself in brain fog and other cognitive issues.