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Mild Cognitive Impairment

16 Sep 2014

 Mild Cognitive Impairment by Debra Brosius, Psy.D., LLC

Your brain, like the rest of your body, changes as you grow older. Many people notice occasional forgetfulness as they age. It may take longer to think of a word or to recall a person’s name. The speed in which information is processed in the brain can also decline.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. Symptoms may include problems with memory, language, speed, thinking and judgment. Many people comment that mental functions “slip.” Your family and close friends also may notice a change. But generally these changes aren’t severe enough to interfere with your day-to-day life and usual activities.

Mild cognitive impairment may increase your risk of later progressing to 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.

But consistent or increasing concern about your mental performance may suggest mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Cognitive issues may go beyond what’s expected and indicate possible MCI if you experience any or all of the following:

You forget things more often.
You forget important events such as appointments or social engagements.
You lose your train of thought or the thread of conversations, books or movies.
You feel increasingly overwhelmed by making decisions, planning steps to accomplish a task or interpreting instructions.
You start to have trouble finding your way around familiar environments.
You become more impulsive or show increasingly poor judgment.
Your family and friends notice any of these changes.

If you have MCI, you may also experience:

Depression
Irritability and aggression
Anxiety
Apathy

It is important to avoid “self-diagnosis.” If you are concerned, it is valuable to seek professional medical advice which may include a functional cognitive assessment. If you have a history of dementia in your family, it is also important to share this information with your medical practitioner.
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