Mild cognitive impairment causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or to other people, but not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function.
A person with MCI does not meet diagnostic guidelines for dementia.
Causes and risk factors
: Causes are not yet completely understood. Experts believe that many cases result from brain changes occurring in the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.
The risk factors most strongly linked to MCI are the same as those for dementia:
• advancing age,
• family history of Alzheimer's or another dementia, and
• conditions that raise risk for cardiovascular disease.
: experts classify mild cognitve impairment based on the thinking skills affected:
• Amnestic MCI
primarily affects memory. For example, a person may forget information that they would previously have recalled easily, like appointments, conversations, or recent events.
• Nonamnestic MCI
affects thinking skills other than memory, like the ability to make sound decisions or judge the time or sequence of steps to complete a complex task.
: Drugs to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease have not shown any lasting benefit in delaying or preventing progression of MCI to dementia.
The following coping strategies may be helpful for those with MCI:
• exercise on a regular basis,
• control cardiovascular risk factors, and
• participate in mentally stimulating and socially engaging activities.
Experts recommend that a person diagnosed with MCI be re-evaluated every 6 months to determine if symptoms are staying the same, improving, or growing worse.
: MCI increases the risk of later developing dementia, but some people with MCI never get worse, or may even return to normal.
Alzheimers Organisation. Alzheimers and Dementia. What is Dementia. Mild Cognitive Impairment. Internet. Accessed on April 1, 2013.