MCI mainly affects memory, but it may also change other cognitive functions and increase your risk of developing dementia. Increased forgetfulness and losing your train of thought often are common symptoms of MCI.
Do you find yourself telling the same story over and over again? Have you noticed yourself struggling to count change at the cashier’s?
You could be suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that primarily affects memory but may also cause subtle changes in other cognitive and daily functions.
“MCI is an intermediate stage between the normal ageing of the brain and the more pronounced cognitive decline caused by dementia,” says Dr Nagaendran Kandiah, Senior Consultant at the Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), a member of the SingHealth group.
There is no known cause for this condition. However, Dr Kandiah says, “Increasing age is definitely a risk factor. So is the presence of a specific gene known as APOE-e4, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease."
Unlike dementia, MCI does not impair a person’s ability to carry out simple routine tasks or lead a normal life.
“These patients can still live independent, fulfilling lives. For instance, they can maintain personal hygiene and handle finances,” explains Dr Kandiah.
“But they tend to be forgetful and have difficulty completing tasks that require multiple steps, like cooking a complicated dish.”
MCI patients also face an increased risk of developing dementia later in life.
How to tell if you have MCI
As you age, it is normal to forget a person’s name or miss out on a social appointment once in a while. But alarm bells should start ringing if your family and friends notice that the frequency of forgetting is increasing or if your daily functions are being compromised.
General signs & symptoms of MCI
Forgetfulness: Not remembering important events like wedding anniversaries and children’s birthdays.
Losing your train of thought or not comprehending conversations.
Losing your way in a familiar environment.
Difficulty in making decisions or completing step-by-step tasks.
Emotional signs of MCI
Irritability and aggression
Read on to find out the treatments and diagnosis for mild cognitive impairment.
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