Symptoms and Signs of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2021

Doctor's Notes on Mild Cognitive Impairment

Possible early dementia is a slowing of mental processes with aging and is sometimes termed senescent forgetfulness, age-related memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Signs and symptoms include actions like misplacing your keys or glasses or failure to remember someone's name. While irritating to the person, the individual is still capable to learn new information, solve problems, and carry out daily living tasks. These signs and symptoms also can occur in early dementia. However, dementia progresses into more serious symptoms like short-term memory loss, inability to solve problems, and eventually, unable to complete daily living tasks.

The causes of early dementia are not known nor are the causes that result in advancing dementia. Researchers consider that associated problems like abnormal protein deposits in brain cells, strokes, head injury, extreme stress, and other problems (medical, chemical) may play a role.

What Is the Treatment of Early Dementia or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)?

The treatment of MCI is primarily supportive to help the patient to continue a productive and enjoyable lifestyle while minimizing the MCI symptoms. The following may help a person cope with MCI:

  • Develop a structured schedule (put it in writing).
  • Plan for regular exercise.
  • The person should keep and/or make sure social contacts occur frequently.
  • Slowly adapt to environmental changes.
  • Continue to function independently doing daily activities.

A new drug, aducanumab (Aduhelm), was approved by the FDA in 2021 for use in Alzheimer's disease and MCI. However, this approval is controversial due to questionable clinical improvements in patients. If another study does not show patient improvement, the FDA may withdraw approval. Also, the drug costs about $58,000 per year. Your doctor may prescribe other medications to treat other MCI-related problems like depression, anxiety, and/or stress.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.