Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment

While some people may experience various forms of cognitive decline as they get older, in certain cases, that decline may eventually lead to dementia.  However, an intermediate diagnosis that sometimes applies to people as they age is known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Anyone with an older loved one should be aware of MCI, and the potential that seniors can develop the issue.  The good news is that, as the name implies, MCI is indeed mild and less likely to be a burden on a person’s day to day life.

While some people may experience various forms of cognitive decline as they get older, in certain cases, that decline may eventually lead to dementia.  However, an intermediate diagnosis that sometimes applies to people as they age is known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Anyone with an older loved one should be aware of MCI, and the potential that seniors can develop the issue.  The good news is that, as the name implies, MCI is indeed mild and less likely to be a burden on a person’s day to day life.

What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

The Mayo Clinic says, “Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia.”  In other words, MCI is a form of mental decline, but less impactful than full forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s Disease.  In fact, one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of MCI is that the ailment causes little, if any, impact on the person’s day-to-day life.

However, the symptoms of MCI are extremely similar to the ‘early warning signs’ of dementia, including:

  • General forgetfulness, such as misplacing items
  • Losing one’s train of thought
  • Difficulty following the plots of books, movies, etc.
  • Difficulty in planning complex tasks
  • Difficulty navigating familiar environments
  • An increase in impulsive / non-thought-out behavior

Unlike with dementia, these symptoms typically never become severe enough to be more than a nuisance.  However, a person with MCI may experience depression, irritability, anxiety, or aggressive behavior, similar to someone in the early stages of dementia.  

What Causes MCI?

Science is still researching the causes of MCI and learning how the issue is distinguished from more serious forms of dementia.  In general, MCI appears to have physical symptoms like those of diseases such as Alzheimer’s but manifesting in a milder form.  Additionally, people carrying the gene known as APOE-e4, which is linked to Alzheimer’s, seem to also be at higher risk of MCI.

Otherwise, typical risk factors are the same as those of other types of dementia. These include excessive drinking, smoking, diabetes, obesity, depression, or social withdrawal.

Can MCI Be Treated?

Currently, no formal approved treatments or drugs exist for MCI.  Generally, the best courses of action for someone with MCI are similar those for other forms of dementia:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Stimulating intellectual activities
  • Social engagement
  • Memory-training exercises or games

Plus, of course, they need compassion and understanding from loved ones!  Support from friends and family can help a lot.

Neighborly Home Care Can Assist Seniors

If you have a loved one suffering from mild cognitive impairment or advancing dementia, or who just needs a little help with day to day tasks, Neighborly Home Care can assist with professional in home senior care services.  Contact us to learn more!

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