Going home for the holidays is a great chance to reflect back on holidays past and make some new memories. But it’s also an occasion when family members commonly identify changes with older loved ones – changes that could be too small to detect on a phone call or FaceTime, but are glaringly apparent in person. One such concern is mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. Although cognitive issues such as forgetfulness affects all of us once we grow older, MCI has some distinctive characteristics to look at for.
What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment?
In a nutshell, MCI denotes changes in thinking and memory skills that are impacting a person’s capacity to perform everyday activities that had once been easy, like paying bills or making meals with no help. These changes are not serious enough to meet the requirements for a diagnosis of dementia, which specifies that living independently is compromised because of the decline in cognitive skills. Nevertheless, there has been enough change from the senior’s former skill level to be noticeable and troublesome.
Mild cognitive impairment can be progressive. Up to 40% of people with MCI will develop dementia over the course of the subsequent 5 years. In other instances, the degree of impairment does not progress or may even get better, so it’s important to know that a diagnosis of MCI will not inevitably mean a future diagnosis of dementia.
What Should I Do if I Suspect MCI in an Older Loved One?
Step one should be to get in touch with the individual’s primary care physician for an evaluation. This may consist of a review of existing medications, screening for health issues that may have similar symptoms, an interview with the individual and family members, and an assessment of cognitive abilities. If warranted, the senior will likely be referred to a specialist for more testing.
Are There Treatment Options Available for Cognitive Issues like MCI?
There are several medications which may be recommended to prevent the progression of the person’s cognitive impairment. Also, there are some changes in lifestyle that may be helpful, including:
- Physical Exercise. Many studies demonstrate promising results on the effects of exercise on MCI. Though one study revealed that it is specifically helpful to incorporate resistance training, we know that other forms of exercise are necessary for an older person’s general health and mobility. Talk to the doctor for suggestions about which exercises are recommended, but in general, balance, aerobics, and flexibility exercises are worthwhile to include along with resistance training.
- Eating Right. The focus should be on foods that affect brain health, like a Mediterranean diet known as the MIND diet, which includes a large number of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (like those found in nuts and avocados), fish, beans, and legumes. Foods that have added sugar or trans fats, as well as meats and packaged or fast foods, should be avoided.
Home With You Senior Care, a trusted provider of Manchester dementia care, is here to assist older adults with mild cognitive impairment to continue to live independently in the homes they love, with the most appropriate level of support. Call us today at 410-756-0959 to find out more. If you would like to view a full list of the communities we serve, visit our Locations Served page.