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Memory Care: Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild cognitive impairment symptoms

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is mild, repeated memory loss. It lies between the normal memory loss of aging and the more serious conditions of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). MCI only involves problems with memory. Dementia and AD involve loss of other cognitive (mental) abilities, such as learning, reasoning, making decisions, and problems with confusion, language, and attention.

Symptoms of MCI focus on frequent, ongoing memory loss beyond what is normally expected for one’s age. That means having more than small lapses of memory, like briefly forgetting someone’s name or forgetting to get something you need at the store.

People with MCI remember much less of what they have just read or seen than people who have only the normal memory changes of aging. They may also take longer to recall the information that they can remember.

People with MCI who are older than 65 have a higher chance of developing dementia and AD than people with normal memory. Some studies show a progression rate of 10 to 15 percent per year. However, many people with MCI never develop these disorders. Some even revert to normal.

Risk factors for mild cognitive impairment

The causes of MCI are not clear. However, genetic factors may be a cause.

Risk factors of MCI include:

  • Age 65 and older
  • Family history of MCI, dementia, or Alzheimer’s
  • Medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, head injury, depression, anxiety or infections
  • Over-medication
  • Substance abuse

Research also suggests that the following may be risk factors for MCI:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Lack of social contact
  • Low educational level
  • Excessive response to stress
  • Poor nutrition and lack of vitamins
  • Exposure to toxins
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