Forgetfulness and trouble completing thinking-related tasks are traits common to all people once in a while. However, when the rate of occurrences becomes frequent, there is a possibility that the affected individual is experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This is particularly true if the person is in the older demographic (over 65). The Mayo Clinic describes MCI as “an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia.”
Who is Affected by Mild Cognitive Impairment?
Approximately 16 million people in the United States have mild cognitive impairment, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk factor for developing MCI rises with age; due to the fact that the baby boomers are getting older, there will be more individuals who experience cognitive impairment in the near future. The number of hospital stays for people with these deficits are three times greater than the average population, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MCI can sometimes be one of the early signs of dementia, the most recognizable form being Alzheimer’s. Currently, approximately five million people in the US over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mild Cognitive Impairment Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of mild cognitive impairment provided by Helpguide.org are as follows:
- Loss of memory
- Trouble planning
- Difficulty performing number-related tasks, such as paying bills
- Visual deficits
- Difficulty making sounds judgement
- Repetitive speech (telling the same story over and over, etc.)
- Changes in mood and behaviour
- Lack of initiative
- Lack of focus
- Trouble following complex instructions
- Frequently losing things
- Trouble following conversation
- Difficulty remembering the names of new people
Due to the fact that many of these symptoms are a normal part of aging, it may be difficult to detect MCI. However, there are some differences in the way the symptoms present themselves that makes detection of the disease easier. When comparing typical indicators of aging with those that occur because of potential early signs of dementia, those experiencing effects of the normal aging process are able to recall instances of forgetfulness. On the other hand, those with a cognitive impairment often cannot remember moments of forgetfulness, and only recognize memory loss when questioned about it.
As well, while older people in the general population occasionally cannot remember specific words, those with MCI (and more advanced forms of dementia) frequently pause when speaking, or substitute forgotten words with others. Conversations flow naturally with those who do not struggle with age-related memory deficits, but this is not the case for those with MCI. Lastly, those in a state of cognitive decline may lose interest in social activities and experience mood changes, such as depression.
Typical signs of aging do not include forgetting one’s way around familiar places, while atypical aging does. This means that individuals may get lost in places they have been before, or take longer than usual to return home.
Mild cognitive impairment is a disorder that affects older individuals. It impacts memory and thinking, and may be one of the early signs of dementia (though not always). The symptoms of MCI subtly affect a large portion of an individual’s life, and have the potential to get progressively more severe over time. Cognitive impairment is not a normal part of the aging process, and should be reported to a doctor immediately, so that a formal diagnosis can be given and management techniques employed.
A new, non-invasive MCI treatment, called Deep Transcranial Magnetic Therapy (dTMS) has been found to alleviate symptoms. According to ALZ Forum, TMS improves memory in these individuals by strengthening pathways between the hippocampus and other brain regions. Westside Neurotherapeutics offers Los Angeles dTMS treatments for MCI. For more information, contact Westside Neurotherapeutics by phone at 310.946.0008 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.