There are many different types of attention. In persons with HD, simple attention often remains intact. In contrast, sustained
or complex types of attention become impaired by HD.
For instance, most persons with HD will experience difficulty with what is called "divided attention," or the capacity
to do two things at once.
For most people, divided attention is impaired when we are tired, sick, or stressed. In HD, divided attention is compromised
most of the time, regardless of extra stress.
Consequently, a person may complain that he can't "pay attention" as well as he used to.
Divided attention is needed to drive a car while listening to the radio, talking to the
kids in the back seat, or talking on the cell phone.
When divided attention is impaired it is recommended that patients try to do only one
thing at a time.
For instance, an HD-affected person should turn off radios, television, and telephones,
and limit conversations while cooking dinner.
When swallowing becomes a problem, mealtime distractions should be minimized and the patient
should concentrate on chewing and swallowing to limit choking.