What is Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)?
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can be a risk factor or precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Characterized by slight changes to a person’s cognitive and memory functioning, MCI does not necessarily have detrimental effects on a person’s life. Most people diagnosed with MCI living in New Jersey can still live independently and enjoy a high quality of life.
The causes of mild cognitive impairment include genetics and the natural processes of aging, but there are some lifestyle factors that can trigger MCI or increase risk. Smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and lack of exercise are all potential risk factors. Having experienced a stroke might also increase the risk of developing MCI. Overuse of certain types of pharmaceuticals, and some mood disorders may also increase a person’s risk.
Because there is no one cause for MCI, the best way to approach the diagnosis is to recognize early warning signs and address them immediately. There is no cure for MCI, but its progress can be slowed by paying attention to lifestyle factors and staying both physically and mentally active. Regular checkups with the doctor offer the peace of mind that the condition is not worsening.
Signs of MCI include difficulty finding the right word to say something, forgetting things more often, including important things like doctor appointments, and lapses in good judgment. It is important to pay attention to any language or cognitive changes in yourself or your loved ones, as those close to you are best able to recognize early warning signs.
Doctors do have a series of tests that may be able to rule out other conditions, including temporary or acute instances of cognitive impairment. For example, some medications could cause memory loss, depression, or poor judgment. Unlike persons with more advanced types of cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s, people with MCI can remain independent but should still be monitored regularly for signs of disease progression.