FLORIDA - BACKGROUND: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes. (SOURCE: www.mayoclinic.com)
SYMPTOMS: The brain, like the rest of the body, changes with age. Many people notice gradually increasing forgetfulness as they age, but consistent or increasing concern about mental performance may suggest mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Some signs to watch out for include:
- Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by making decisions, planning steps to accomplish a task or interpreting instructions
- Getting lost in familiar environments
MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT VS. ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: Unlike Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) where cognitive abilities gradually decline, the memory deficits in MCI may remain stable for years. However, some individuals with MCI develop cognitive deficits and functional impairment consistent with AD. Whether MCI is a disorder distinct from AD or a very early phase of AD is a topic of continuing investigation. (SOURCE: http://memory.ucsf.edu)
RISK FACTORS: The risk factors most strongly linked to MCI are the same as those for dementia: advancing age, family history of Alzheimer's or another dementia, and conditions that raise risk for cardiovascular disease. (SOURCE: http://www.alz.org)
TREATMENT: No medications are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild cognitive impairment. However, the following coping strategies may be helpful for those with MCI:
- Control cardiovascular risk factors to protect the heart and blood vessels, including those that support brain function.
- Participate in mentally-stimulating and socially-engaging activities, which may help sustain brain function.
There is also Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT). CRT is the process of relearning cognitive skills that have been lost or altered as a result of damage to brain cells/chemistry. CRT Services are directed to achieve functional changes by:
- Reinforcing, strengthening, or establishing previously learned patterns of behavior.
- Establishing new patterns of cognitive activity or mechanisms to compensate for impaired neurological systems.
- Tailoring interventions to help the individual be as independent as possible in the management of his or her everyday routines and responsibilities in their home and community.