Understanding Slow Processing Speed In Adults

Frank is in his late 40’s, and in several ways, his life is good. He loves his job and runs his entire department.

He makes decent money and has a beautiful home with his wife. But Frank recently noticed an alarming trend:

He isn’t as mentally spry as he used to.

In the past, he answers trivia questions and puzzles real fast, sometimes within seconds. But now, it takes him a lot longer.

Frank is in his middle age, a time when cognitive abilities or thinking abilities stop being as good as they used to.

Like Frank, are you in your middle age and are already noticing this unpleasant decline?

Here is a guide to help you understand what slow processing speed in adults is!

A Comprehensive Understanding Of Slow Processing Speed In Adults

Below, you’ll look closely at specific cognitive abilities adults often struggle with in their middle ages. These are information processing and memory!

First, can you relate to Frank’s experience mentioned at the outset of this article? Then, let’s take a short trip back to Frank.

Daily, the world bustles around Frank. Everywhere he turns to, he is overwhelmed with information:

  • The sights and sounds around him
  • The content of emails and websites
  • The things his coworkers are saying to him

Yes, all of this is information! And guess what? Frank must sort through it all. How will he process it?

First, let’s get detailed with information processing:

Information Processing

This is described as the way we make sense of the information the brain receives.

Like Frank, you are presented with loads of information every time. Imagine you are sitting in a quiet room.

You’ll still have a lot of information there. These include:

  • The sight of the objects in the room
  • The low hum of the refrigerator or air conditioner
  • Perhaps, some sounds creeping in from outside the window

Yes, all of this is information, and imagine – it is just a quiet room!

1. Processing Speed:

An aspect of information processing in adults that declines in middle age is the speed of processing and reacting to information.

Let’s assume that some middle-aged persons are walking down the street, and they catch sight of a ball flying at them.

They might be unable to get out of the way quickly because their information processing is slower than in their 20s.

If an adult cannot process the information they used to process fast in the past, slow processing speed might be playing a key role.

2. Attention:

Apart from speed, another aspect of information processing that declines during middle age is that of attention.

As we age, it becomes difficult and harder to focus on what’s important. Have difficulty understanding this? Let’s imagine a scenario.

Imagine that you are studying at a coffee shop.

Of course, a lot is happening, from noise coming from the shop to the people ordering the coffee, colors, and sights.

Yet, you still have your study material with you.

You have only one job: Tune out what’s not vital to you and pay attention to what truly matters!

To do that, you will have to focus on your materials and let the sounds and sights fade. This involves a high level of attention.

While a teenager or a young adult might find this easier to do, it becomes a difficult feat for adults to attain.

They have difficulty blocking extraneous information and paying attention to what matters.

However, this shouldn’t be linked with the onset of dementia. Why should this wrong conclusion not be reached?

In a recent article published in the New York Times by Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist, he explains that memory difficulties are common.

Also, he emphasized that when an adult is slow at processing information, it does not in any way indicate they are likely to have dementia.

Instead, he maintained that memory struggles common to adults in their middle age are due to generalized cognitive slowing – the tendency to process information slowly as we age.

In all of these, slow processing speed doesn’t have to do with intelligence.

Since processing speed is how long it takes an individual to complete a task, some adults might take longer to process a piece of information, requiring less time to process by another adult.

Slow processing speed is when a person needs more than the usual time to absorb, make sense of, and react to information.

The information the adult receives might be visual or auditory.

  • Visuals – Letters or numbers
  • Auditory – Spoken language

Having slow processing speed sometimes can lead to needless frictions at work, school, and in some social situations.

Additionally, these individuals might have difficulty remembering new information, and interacting with others might be tricky too.

They might have to be silent for a few seconds before reacting or responding to someone. It might even take them a long time to explain something.

And as a reminder, it has nothing to do with how brilliant an adult is – it is just how quickly they can absorb information and make use of it.

Unfortunately, slow processing speed doesn’t vanish with age. Therefore, if you think you can get back your processing speed with no effort, the result might be disappointing!

Thus you have to be intentional about improving your processing speed.

Of course, slow processing speed in adults can lead to a lot of anxiety and even dip into their self-esteem.

This means that learning about slow processing speed in adults isn’t just enough.  An adult has to learn about the signs that valid their status.

Also, they will have to learn how to treat the condition and how to run a continuous test to see if there are improvements.

So, what are the signs of slow processing speed in adults? Let’s find out!

Signs Of Slow Processing Speed In Adults

Slow processing speed can impact every area of an adult’s life. It’s a lifelong challenge!

The signs might not look the same at varying ages. Yet, there are common signs an adult might notice.

Adults with slow processing speed might:

1. Get Overwhelmed By Excessive Information At A Time

How much can the mind of an adult take? A lot!

But when you start to feel like your conscious thoughts are one massive giant to-do list, then it might be slow processing speed.

There is a limit to the capacity the human mind has to juggle lots of information. However, there are more limits in adults with slow processing speed.

They will reach a point when they begin to miss things, get angry, avoid things and struggle at work, in their relationship, and even at home.

If you experience this often, it might be a clear sign.

2. Often Miss Social Cues

One of the skills to help an adult to be socially adept is to pick up social cues. It comes naturally, though.

But with adults with processing speed, it can be pretty frustrating.

Do you have difficulty picking up social cues like tone of voice and text, vocal register, eye contact, facial expression, smile style, mirroring, and sudden silence?

You might be struggling with slow processing speed.

3. Require More Time To Give Answers Or Make Decisions

Jos Buurman, a user on Quora, said: “My wife considered more than 10 seconds…slow.”

True, ten seconds is pretty long. When you wait that long to answer a simple math problem or answer someone asking for your name, it might be a signal.

4. Reading Information Repeatedly Before Understanding It

Do you always have to read information twice or more before understanding it? How often does that happen?

If it happens with basic information, it could also be a sign that you have a slow processing speed.

5. Trouble Following Routines & Directions

Many adults with slow processing speed have difficulty following directions and routines.

If you exhibit this trait, be sure to go for a thorough evaluation.

6. Have Trouble Finishing Tasks On-Time

Adults who do not have slow processing speed would have no difficulty finishing their tasks right on time.

That isn’t the same story with adults with slow processing speed. They take more than the average time to complete a task.

7. Missing Nuances In Conversation

Life is full of nuances. And it is vital to understand, seek, and embrace it.

Do you have difficulty capturing a deeper meaning behind a person’s conversation?

If you do, you might be missing the true meaning behind an expression.

Of course, as every other sign discussed, if you experience this, it might also be a sign.

Now that we have explored the signs of slow processing speed in adults, what’s next? Treatment!

In the following subheading, we’ll take you through some of the best ways to manage slow processing speed in adults.

Treatment Of Slow Processing Speed In Adults

One Fundamental truth is that slow processing speed doesn’t disappear with age.

However, some support and strategies are quite effective in making it less challenging.

1. Practicing Specific Skills

Practice is an excellent way to improve the speed of a particular skill.

Research shows that repeating skills make tasks more automatic – and also faster to process.

This treatment applies to things done daily. The more you repeat a task, the faster you’ll get at it.

Therefore, seek strategies that can help you become more efficient. You can do this with almost all tasks.

For example, make a list of what to do and what you aren’t required to do.

Then, you can be confident that you’ll be spending the right time on the right goals.

Keep that list handy. Keep reviewing it daily.

2. Work On Organization And Planning Skills

Planning can be challenging for adults with slow processing speed, especially when they are clueless about how long it will take to complete a task.

Therefore, keep a log of start and stop times. This helps you estimate how long a project will take and track whether you have enough time.

Emphasizing planning and organization is effective for adults to stay more efficient at routine tasks.

Also, keep your task predictable and consistent. If you stick to these routines, you will require less time to process information.

3. ADHD Medication

If an adult living with slow processing speed also has ADHD, it might be great to look into ADHD medications.

While the medication might not improve processing speed directly, it might be effective in focusing more.

If you would love to explore this option, please, speak up with a clinical psychologist or neuropsychologist.

They might have a list of medications that have worked with success and those you shouldn’t try.

They have the best suggestions on other lifestyle changes that can be great in managing the condition effectively.

4. Improve Poor Memory

Another treatment of slow processing speed in an adult is improving poor memory.

There are evidence-based techniques to enhance memory naturally. These include:

a. Eating Less Sugar

In adults, sugar enhances memory and helps them stay motivated to perform strenuous tasks.

This is according to the research done at the University of Warwick. However, excess sugar is harmful!

b. Fish Oil Supplement

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish support good brain health.

These nutrients are effective in aiding the functions of the brain – which includes memory and thinking.

c. Meditation

Regular meditation enhances the flow of blood to the brain.

This reinforces memory capacity and a solid network of blood vessels inside the cerebral cortex.

Meditating for just twenty minutes a day can boost concentration and memory.

d. Healthy Weight

New research suggests that when a person loses weight, their memory gets sharper.

In a research done by Andreas Stomby, MD, he shows that losing weight influences how the brain works, helping it perform better.

Being overweight, on the other hand, is linked to concentration and memory problems.

To maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly.

e. Sleep

During night sleep, some memories are enriched.

Research has shown that memories can become more stable in a person’s brain when engaging in deep stages of sleep.

Do not deprive yourself of quality sleep!

f. Practice Mindfulness

The density of the region of the brain called the hippocampus is boosted by mindfulness.

The hippocampus plays a significant role both in long-term memory and working memory.

g. Drink Less Alcohol

Recent studies have revealed that low-to-moderate alcohol intake is linked with a lesser risk of dementia.

Heavy drinking for years is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline.

Therefore, if you have to drink alcohol, take it in low doses. It enhances overall brain health.

h. Train The Brain

Mental workouts are essential to gray matters.

Challenging the mind too can help the gray matters grow and expand, improving the memory.

For example, a trial from the journal PLoS revealed that people who got involved in fifteen minutes of brain training activities for five days a week had a significant enhancement in their brain function.

5. Eat The Right Food

Not all foods will help boost your brain. Where should you start?

We’ve made it simpler for you! Here is a list of food that is effective in boosting the brain.

  • Blueberries
  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Turmeric
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Broccoli
  • Coffee

6. Use Technology

There are vast arrays of technological tools designed to help an individual increase his speed of technology.

Games are one of the leading tech tools. Additionally, there are time management apps that have proven effective too.

7. Embrace Good Work Ethics

Taking breaks and being realistic are excellent ways to treat slow processing speed in adults.

Giving yourself breaks can help you recharge and stay focused.

If you are overwhelmed with tasks, make sure you recharge.

8. Stay Positive

Finally, you’ve got to stay positive! You might lose sight of the bigger picture if you stay glued to your condition.

Be convinced that every step you make will lead to a dramatic result very soon.

But, while you are waiting for the big change, ensure your expectations are realistic.

If you’ve gone for a thorough evaluation, that’s a sweet step.

If you are consistent and you keep working on these changes, they’ll yield great results.

Slow Processing Speed In Adults: Test

Do you want to measure your brain’s processing speed? Are you interested in measuring your attention span and focus?

Some websites do that for free – and I am revealing them to you for free too.

Before you explore it, get to know it first!

This brain speed test helps to measure cognitive processing speed and attention. It focuses on working memory capacity.

What is the goal of the test?

To pass all at the beginner level! Then, you can move to the expert level when you are ready.

Also, you are required to get more points by passing tests with large spans of objects or numbers.

Additionally, you can practice in advance using:

Click on these links to practice. Also, click here to see the processing speed in adults’ tests.

How is the test scheduled?

There is a beginner level where you need to do the:

1. Digit Span Test:

  • Repeat numbers in forwarding order.
  • Repeat numbers in reverse order

2. Visual Span Test:

  • Click on shown object boxes in forward order.
  • Click on shown object boxes in reverse order.

The result of these tests shows whether you have a slow processing speed, average processing speed, or you process information fast.

You can try the game again and again or move to the expert level!

Yes, these are ways to test processing speed for adults.

Final Thoughts

Improving slow processing speed in adults isn’t a myth or something too lofty to attain.

First, it calls for a thorough understanding of the condition, which includes evaluation.

After that, an adult should implement suggestions given in this article, coupled with interventions offered by a clinical psychologist or neuropsychologist

Finally, you can start with the processing speed test now and visit a neuropsychologist with the result.

Welcome! I’m Trust. I’m a writer, public instructor, and mobile photographer. I’m passionate about an organized and productive life and have keen concern for folks living with ADHD and those having a slow processing speed. Join me on this journey as we live an organized and productive life!

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