MCI: Forewarned Is Forearmed!


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Mild cognitive impairment called MCI is a diagnosis of early-stage memory loss that does not impact daily life. It affects about one in six adults ages 65 or older in the US. For some it is just normal aging, but for an estimated 15 percent of people with MCI, it is much worse.

Marie Davis is 83 years old and a proud mother, grandmother and great grandmother.  She says, “I really enjoy living. Keep telling myself, ‘Now, I’m not a young woman. I’m the age I am and keep believing that. Don’t overdue but do.’”

Marie was diagnosed last year with mild cognitive impairment. She’s still able to care for herself in her home. And she follows these two rules from her doctor, “Keep my mind clear. Be patient with myself.”

MCI is typically identified during a medical exam. The doctor talks with the patient and a loved one who knows them well.

Nicole Fowler, PhD, MHSA, Research Scientist at Regenstrief Institute/ Associate Professor IU School of Medicine says, “It helps us to detect what might be potentially going on and helps us make a decision clinically if this patient should have further diagnostic assessment.”

Professor Fowler is part of a national panel of experts advocating for early detection of MCI. After a diagnosis, doctors can investigate whether there is an underlying cause, such as a medication the patient is taking.

Professor Fowler says, “Many older adults take both prescription and over-the-counter medicines for a variety of reasons. And some of these drugs can have a real impact on people’s brains.”

Early detection also gives patients and their families more time to plan for the future, especially in cases where it develops into dementia.

“The ability to have discussions that are over time and longitudinal with patients is, sort of, one of the benefits of a mild cognitive impairment discussion because the patient is still able to do some things for themselves,” explains Professor Fowler.

Marie encourages anyone noticing memory changes to talk to their doctor. She says, “Don’t be embarrassed. It’s for your benefit.”

Fowler says currently, there are no established guidelines for how doctors detect or diagnose MCI. She says the goal of their research is to help incorporate brief cognitive assessments into routine care of older adults.

Contributors to this news report include: Lindsay Dailey, Producer; Kyle Fisher, Editor and Videographer.



REPORT #3186

BACKGROUND: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a term used when someone has accelerated memory or thinking problems compared to someone the same age. It is not considered as severe as Alzheimer’s, and the person can typically still take care of themselves. Approximately ten to 20 percent of the population aged 65 or older have MCI. Being diagnosed with MCI does raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. There are genetic factors like diabetes, depression, and stroke that can increase the risk for MCI as well. A doctor can perform medical tests and assessments to help confirm a diagnosis. They may also recommend seeing a specialist such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist.


LIVING WITH MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT: There are ways to help manage and cope with MCI symptoms. Focusing on one task at a time will help become less distracted and frustrated and more likely to accomplish what needs to be done. Having a routine and putting things in the same place where they are easily seen and found will help from forgetting where things are. Using a visible calendar for appointments and reminders will help stay on task and not miss anything important. Setting an alarm to take any medication is important to ensure you don’t miss any dosage. And getting enough sleep is always important for overall health. Most people diagnosed with MCI can still drive a car. Sometimes, a driving assessment can be taken to ensure the safety of their driving. When it comes to employment, employers will work with the person and possibly reduce hours worked per week, or even find an alternative position that may be less demanding.          


NEW RESEARCH ON MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT: Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital believe that MCI indicates cognitive decline that reflects a degenerative brain process beyond the scope of normal aging. In the last few years, the number of studies focusing on patients with complaints of early memory loss has increased. They show these memory complaints in the elderly are associated with a higher‐than‐average risk of developing dementia in the future. Several other studies have suggested that results of certain imaging procedures, like MRIs and PET scans, can help determine an individual’s risk for developing dementia. Ongoing clinical trials of medications aimed at decreasing Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain are being conducted. Researchers may be able to test potential treatments at earlier stages with better knowledge of the earliest stages of MCI.


* For More Information, Contact:

Alex TenBarge, Social Media Specialist

Regenstrief Institute, Inc.

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