According to the Mayo Clinic, “Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It’s characterized by problems with memory, language, thinking or judgment.”
Mayo Clinic further states, “If you have mild cognitive impairment, you may be aware that your memory or mental function has “slipped.” Your family and close friends also may notice a change. But these changes aren’t severe enough to significantly interfere with your daily life and usual activities. Mild cognitive impairment may increase your risk of later developing dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions. But some people with mild cognitive impairment never get worse, and a few eventually get better.”
How MCI Occurs
- If you have been through a traumatic experience, it could cause MCI to occur in your brain naturally.
- As you age, MCI could develop due to brain deterioration.
- Younger people who have chronic conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD could battle with MCI on top of their other states.
- This is sometimes a way of the brain, protecting them from other things. Strokes or brain injuries can also affect a younger person, and later the mild cognitive impairment could lead to worse impairments.
The Warning Signs/Symptoms of MCI
Even though mild cognitive impairment may seem less severe than other forms of memory loss, it should still be taken seriously. If someone is left unaware, they may accidentally make it worse, which could lead to other problems. The more aware you are, the healthier you can stay, which may affect you positively later on in life.
- Memory- Most commonly recognized as a warning sign of MCI is the lost memory. If someone is having trouble remembering things that should be easy for their age, it could be a sign of MCI.
- Losing Things- If someone often misplaces essential things, it could be an early warning sign of mild cognitive impairment.
- Words- Not being able to think of words that should be easy to think of can be a significant sign.
- Loss of Smell- In some instances, people have reported a sense of smell going along with other MCI symptoms.
Symptoms of MCI can remain stable, improve, or progress to worse conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.
Though these are only the primary list of symptoms, there could be more signs. It can be frustrating at times and may cause additional behavioral issues due to the lack of remembering.
However, if you live with someone who has MCI, the important thing is to be patient, understanding, and forgiving. It is harder for a person who is struggling with mild cognitive impairment.
Strongest Risk Factors:
- A gene known as APOE e4, which is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease does not guarantee you will get MCI, but it is linked to it.
Medical Conditions and Lifestyle Factors
- Not engaging in physical exercise
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
- Low education level
- Lack of social interaction
- Lack of mental stimulation
What To Do If You Notice Symptoms
If your family is telling you that you may have some of these symptoms, the first thing you can do is talk to a doctor. They will be able to give you a set of tests for speech, memory, and other motor functions that will help them diagnose you. If you have more than one symptom or results that come back odd, you may have MCI.
Doctors may be able to provide you with certain drugs that help boost memory and block whatever keeps you from remembering certain things. Prescribing drugs is also not an ordinary course of treatment. Keeping healthy can be one of the best ways to help your brain function fully.