happy caregiver shoppig with senior lady

Returning home for the holidays is a great opportunity to make new memories and reminisce together about holidays past. But it’s also an occasion when people frequently observe changes with their elder loved ones – changes that may be too minor to pick up on during a phone call or FaceTime, but are glaringly obvious in person. One of these concerns is mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. While a touch of forgetfulness affects us all as we grow older, MCI has many distinctive characteristics to look at for. Learn how to notice MCI in seniors with the tips below.

What Exactly Is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

MCI denotes alterations in memory skills and thinking that are impacting a person’s ability to accomplish everyday activities that had once been easy, such as preparing meals or paying bills independently. These changes are not extreme enough to meet the requirements for a dementia diagnosis, which specifies that living independently is compromised because of the decline in cognitive skills. However, there has been enough change from the senior’s past ability level to stand out and be worrisome.

Mild cognitive impairment can be progressive. Approximately 40% of people with MCI will develop dementia over the course of the next five years. In other situations, the degree of impairment does not progress or could even improve, so it’s crucial to understand that a diagnosis of MCI isn’t going to inevitably mean a future diagnosis of dementia.

What Can I Do if I Suspect MCI in an Older Loved One?

Step one would be to get in touch with the person’s primary care physician for an assessment. This will likely include an evaluation of existing medications, testing for health conditions that may have similar symptoms, an interview with the senior and members of the family, and an assessment of cognitive abilities. If required, the senior will be referred to a specialist for additional testing.

Are There Treatment Options Available for MCI?

There are several medications that may be recommended to stop the development of the person’s cognitive impairment. Also, there are some changes in lifestyle that can be helpful, such as:

  • Exercising. A number of studies demonstrate encouraging results on the effects of exercise on MCI. Though one study found it to be particularly beneficial to incorporate resistance training, we know that other forms of exercise are important for an older person’s general health and mobility. Consult with a doctor for advice on which workouts are recommended, but in general, aerobics, flexibility, and balance exercises are worthwhile to include alongside resistance training.
  • Diet. The main focus should be on foods that affect brain health, such as a Mediterranean diet known as the MIND diet, which includes plenty of vegetables and fruit, healthy fats (like those 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.

Grace Home Care’s experts in memory care in Topeka, KS are here to help older adults with mild cognitive impairment to continue to reside independently in the homes they love, with the ideal level of support and care. Contact us at 785-286-2273 for more information.