If an elderly in senior assisted living constantly forgets important dates or misses appointments with the doctor, this could signify mild cognitive impairment or MCI.


1. MCI is Different From Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

MCI may often be linked to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but it’s not the same. However, people diagnosed with MCI may be at high risk of developing dementia in later years.

MCI symptoms are pretty manageable, and patients are entirely capable of taking care of themselves. For instance, many patients diagnosed with MCI explore ways to improve the quality of their lives to stop it from further progressing towards dementia.

Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms are disruptive to everyday life. They impair proper functioning and get in the way of daily activities. A typical day for you could be extremely difficult for someone with dementia.


2. MCI Symptoms are Mild

Moreover, MCI symptoms are not as severe as what patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s suffer from. MCI patients do not display erratic personality changes that are characteristic of someone who has dementia.

Its name says it all! MCI reveals mild to moderate symptoms that may not threaten one’s safety or can get in the way of routine or daily tasks.  A person with MCI can freely take on any responsibility and can be productive and contribute so much to society with the help of senior assisted living.

Signs of MCI may include:

  • Constant forgetfulness of important dates or routine appointments
  • Losing your keys or other things often
  • Speech difficulties
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Trouble with movement


3. There is No Known Cure Yet for MCI

MCI is not treatable – at least for now. However, there are cognitive or memory problems that may be treatable. The key to that is to go deeper to discover the underlying medical problem that is causing the onset of MCI.

Doctors would perform assessments and tests to determine the primary reason for MCI so you would have better control over your condition. In addition, using apps or tools to organize your activities or ideas helps get things in order without forgetting a single thing.

While there is no known medication or treatment yet for MCI, you can always reverse the curse of aging by developing healthy habits designed to keep your mental processes robust as day one.
Senior woman looking out window, lost, confused

4. MCI can be a Warning Sign of More Serious Cognitive Problems

People suffering from a mild cognitive impairment would show signs of mental problems that other people do not notice. Still, family and friends would undoubtedly know the difference. Patients with MCI can carry out their normal daily activities, so their productivity isn’t affected.

As MCI could be a red flag for a more serious underlying cognitive illness, it’s essential to visit the doctor for further assessment at least every 12 months. Doctors can track or record any changes in behavior or memory, which can help make an accurate diagnosis.

Individuals suffering from MCI can also participate in clinical studies that can help formulate new drugs or treatments to cure MCI.


5. MCI Refers to a Set of Symptoms and Not a Disease

People with MCI symptoms have difficulties or gaps in the following areas:

  • Memory – Forgets important dates or even recent events. They would also tend to repeat themselves, be redundant, or ask the same questions over and over again.
  • Communication or Language – Difficulties in expressing themselves or articulating a point.
  • Attention – Difficulty with focus or concentration; tends to get easily distracted and has difficulty finishing something they have started.
  • Problem-Solving – Finds it tedious or overwhelming to plan and think of solutions to pressing problems.
  • Visual Depth Perception – Struggle with determining distances or difficulty in going up and down the stairs.

People with MCI may need assistance with tasks that require precision, like driving or taking medications. But, on the other hand, they would have no problems with daily routine activities.


6. MCI is Not a Normal Part of Aging

Cognitive decline is evident in people with MCI, which is far greater than what is observed with those undergoing the normal aging process. MCI isn’t a part of aging because not everyone is predisposed to have it at some point in their lives.

Normal aging illustrates someone who would stop for a second to recall words or directions but people with MCI would take it to another level and forget names of their family and friends or even important dates like their own birthdays or places they’re familiar with.


7. MCI Increases Your Risk of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

MCI may develop following several conditions. MCI can be a symptom for many neurodegenerative diseases, especially if specific symptoms turn out to be more exacerbated than average.

It’s more likely for a person with MCI to develop dementia further down the road than someone who doesn’t have it. It’s even coined to be a pre-dementia phase. MCI shows symptoms that include anomalies or problem areas involving thinking, rationalization, language, judgment, and memory, which are far greater or more pronounced than normal aging. On the other hand, not everyone with MCI will develop dementia.

The cognitive deficits associated with MCI are too minimal or mild to interfere with daily activities. Therefore, people with MCI can still be social butterflies and work without needing assistance, but this would depend on the nature and complexity of a person’s career.


Cognitive Training Interventions for MCI

Researchers are still exploring biomarkers of MCI. At this point, neuropsychologists can determine if a person has MCI through a clinical diagnosis or evaluation of signs and symptoms plus neuropsychological tests. There is so much variability, and the progression of pathologies may differ from one person to another.

While there are no known medications yet to treat MCI, cognitive training interventions are implemented to help with brain training. Increased physical activities and maintaining a well-balanced diet to manage hypertension can help improve or manage MCI symptoms in senior assisted living.