By now, you’re well aware the changes that can occur in aging brains can lead to memory problems, and in some cases Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, did you know up to 15 to 20 percent of people over the age of 65 have mild cognitive impairment?
What is mild cognitive impairment?
While the phrase “mild cognitive impairment” may bring up thoughts of memory loss, there’s more to it than that. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, mild cognitive impairment “causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function.
The condition is usually classified into two segments, judged by which thinking skills are affected. They are amnestic MCI and non-amnestic MCI. Amnestic MCI happens if you regularly begin forgetting important information you used to easily recall like appointments or recent events.
Non-amnestic MCI happens if you have consistent trouble making sound decisions or have trouble judging the time and sequence it takes to complete a complex task.
The symptoms of mild cognitive impairment
Symptoms can include:
- Forgetting important information like appointments or social engagements
- Frequently losing your train of thought
- Having trouble finding your way around familiar environments
- Showing poor judgement or becoming more impulsive
- Irritability or aggression
- Lack of empathy
In some people, mild cognitive impairment can increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease, while in others the condition can remain stable. Some may experience a return to normal cognition.
Is there a treatment for mild cognitive impairment?
Drugs shown to treat Alzheimer’s are not effective with mild cognitive impairment. In fact, there is no medication that can be used for treatment. Instead, activities that can help slow cognitive decline like getting regular exercise, controlling your blood pressure and heart health and participating in mentally stimulating activities are recommended.
What should I do if I’m experiencing cognitive decline?
If you’re experiencing memory issues, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a cognitive issue, you should have regular followups with your doctor every six months.