It is normal for seniors to experience some degree of memory loss and cognitive decline as they age, but in some cases it is more severe. When a senior’s cognitive decline surpasses the normal level but has not reached a level high enough to qualify as dementia, it is called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. When caregivers learn that their loved one has MCI, it can be a cause for concern. They may have many questions on their mind such as, is there any way to stop its progress? Does MCI make dementia inevitable? Will my loved one be able to do the normal activities that they enjoy? Read on for some helpful information about this condition and what caregivers can do.
What are the symptoms of MCI?Seniors with MCI experience similar symptoms as the normal cognitive decline that comes with aging, the difference is that they are slightly more severe. These symptoms include memory loss, having poor judgement, getting lost more easily, having difficulty making decisions, and having trouble carrying on conversations. With MCI, seniors can also experience depression, anxiety, irritability, and/or apathy.
What happens when a loved one is diagnosed with MCI?Fortunately, those with MCI can usually still do their normal daily activities without much of a problem. An MCI diagnosis does not mean your loved ones will have to give up the activities they enjoy, in fact it is a great idea for them to continue doing these things. MCI can increase a senior’s risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but it doesn’t always progress to these more serious conditions. Some seniors with MCI may never experience progression of the condition and some may even get better.
Are there treatments for MCI?Doctors usually do not prescribe medications to treat MCI. Sometimes, if seniors have another medical condition that is contributing to their cognitive impairment, doctors will recommend treatments or medications to treat these underlying conditions. These include depression, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure. Though there are currently no FDA-approved treatments for MCI, there are some lifestyle changes that seniors can make to help them to improve their cognitive function and delay the progression of MCI. Caregivers can help by encouraging their senior loved one to make these changes which include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, doing intellectually stimulating activities, and participating in social activities.