What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Apr 27, 17 What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

One of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia is a mild cognitive impairment (MCI). If you or someone you know has been given a diagnosis of MCI, it means a greater risk of developing dementia later on, but it also means that there are some lifestyle changes that can be made to slow the effects of the cognitive impairment.

  1. Mild cognitive impairment is not a disease. However, MCI is a diagnosis that physicians may give to a person after issuing several cognitive tests. Those tests include general assessments of mental faculties including problem solving and memory, neurological examinations to test autonomic nervous system responses like reflexes, a psychological assessment of mood, blood tests, and even interviews with family members.
  2. There are different types of MCI. Mild cognitive impairment does not mean the same set of symptoms for every person. Some people have a mild cognitive impairment that primarily affects their short and medium term memory. Known as amnestic MCI, the deterioration of short term memory is fairly easy to recognize because usually the person will forget to show up for appointments, forget what they just ate, or forget something that was just said. The other type of MCI is known simply as nonamnestic MCI because it is less related to memory and more to other cognitive processes and functions like problem solving or judgment. A person who suddenly forgets how to do a typical daily task or who starts to exhibit poor driving skills may be diagnosed with nonamnestic MCI.
  3. There are no medications or cures for MCI. However, research does show that lifestyle choices including good nutrition, regular exercise, keeping the mind and brain engaged, and also meaningful social interactions can help minimize the symptoms and slow the deterioration of cognitive processes.