Moving forward with MCI. Mild cognitive impairment, also known as MCI, is a condition that falls between age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. By taking proactive steps now, you can help yourself and others.
Progress starts with understanding. MCI is often confused as the “typical” memory loss associated with aging or as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Neither situation reflects the truth of MCI.
Here are frequently asked questions about MCI.
No. MCI is a step beyond the memory loss most people experience as they age. To help you determine if changes are a warning sign or not, please read the article "Worried Well or Concerning Changes?" in the Brain Health Guide.
While MCI can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, that is not the case for many people. It is not the same as early Alzheimer’s. MCI primarily affects short-term memory; it presents itself in ways that are beyond what is normal for a particular age, but does not interfere in day-to-day life.
While the condition is not fully understood yet, we're learning more about it all the time. The risk factors for MCI appear to be the same as Alzheimer’s disease, and include age, cardiovascular contributors and family history.
Individuals who are diagnosed with MCI can take a proactive approach. Wellness activities – including exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep – are important. It’s also important to look at areas impacted by the cognitive impairment, and incorporate strategies that limit frustration and support your daily rhythm. One of the most impactful steps you can take is to participate in research. Explore these research opportunities.
Absolutely! Early-stage support groups benefit people with various cognitive disorders, from MCI to early Alzheimer's and other dementias. Support group attendees discuss ways they accommodate the challenges they face, including resilience and coping strategies; ask relevant questions; and encourage each other. The KU ADRC holds virtual early-stage support group meetings on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month, from 10-11 a.m. Central time. For information on how to join the group, contact Michelle Niedens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 913.945.7310.
The support of family and friends is tremendously helpful, and there are many ways to be supportive:
- Learn about MCI so you can address areas of concern and support any accommodations or new strategies that might be required.
- Encourage the person living with MCI to be part of a support group; model the behavior by participating in a caregiver support group.
- Discuss possible research participation with the person living with MCI, and the opportunity to volunteer with the Experience League. You can also ask about the KU ADRC’s PAIRS program, and the possibility of working with a first-year medical student who wants to learn more about MCI and other early-stage conditions.
- Practice wellness activities together. Start now: Learn more about our LEAP! program.