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About Dementia
Types of Dementia

Mild Cognitive Impairment

What is it?

Mild Cognitive Impairment is also known as "MCI". A diagnosis of MCI is usually made after two things happen. People first tell their doctor that they are worried about their memory . Second, the doctor then tests their memory and finds that the problem has certain features. The first feature is that the problemis mostlymemory - and not other issues- like impairment in language or paying attention. Secondly, the problem does not really interfere with people doing what they usually do - working, doing their hobbies, enjoying social activities, taking care of the house or finances.

What does a diagnosis mean?

There is a lot of interest in what a MCI diagnosis means, because no one is really sure. On the one hand, people diagnosed with MCI are of a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease . On the other hand, many people with MCI get completely better after a few months or even a few years.

Why some people get worse and other people get better is not known. That is why there is so much interest in understanding MCI. The worry with MCI is that it could be a first step to Alzheimer's disease or some other dementia. Even so, about a third of people with MCI will do better on their tests if tested again. The interval between when they are tested and found to have a problem and tested again and found not to have one can be as short as 3 months or as long as 5 years.

Is there treatment?

Currently, there is no specific treatment for MCI, but there are a few things we think are likely to help. Together, these are called the "brain at risk" program. Reducing risk can happen by following these steps:

  • Check with your doctor to make sure your physical health is as good as it can be. Even small problems can add up to increase their risk of decline in brain function. You might have read about this recently or see coverage on television (Click Here for recent news).
  • If your doctor agrees, start an exercise program. As little as half an hour a day of walking, five days a week not just improves performance, even more exciting, it causes part of the brain that is responsible for memory andlearning to shrink in people with memory problems to regrow by as much as they might loose in 2-3 years.
  • Wear your seat belt
  • Wear a helmet when you bike
  • Do something new and stimulating, especially if it is a challenge. Learn a second language, take up a new musical instrument - the more you use your brain, the better.
  • Socialize. Interact with other people. Join a group. Get out. Don't just sit there in front of the television. Enjoy!

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Last updated December 7, 2018
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