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Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Last updated on: Friday, 5 May 2023
  • What You'll Learn

Cognitive impairments in older adults could be either mild or severe. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is generally problems with memory, language, thinking, or judgment. Mild cognitive impairment is usually not severe enough to interfere with your loved one’s daily life. Severe cognitive impairment could lead to losing the ability to ability to talk or even write in some. Severe cases could also result in an inability to live independently. Cognitive impairment can change how your loved one thinks, acts, and feels. Your loved one may have their good days and bad days. Knowing that it’s the disease and not your loved one causing the behaviour is key to coping with mild cognitive impairment.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, some factors may help protect you from MCI:

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Sleep
  • Mental Stimulation
  • Social Contacts

A loved one who has mild cognitive impairment may need more help with some of the activities of daily living (eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, etc.) A loved one who lives alone and struggles with these tasks usually needs support in their home or an assisted living facility.

With moderate cognitive impairment, your loved one may experience more severe memory loss than with mild cognitive impairment and have issues communicating. They may forget family members and friend’s names, or they may leave the stove left on after preparing a meal. Your loved one should not live alone in this case.

Older adults with severe cognitive impairment will require special care, with 24-hour monitoring as several adults with this condition are known to wander. Loved ones with cognitive impairment are known to develop Alzheimer’s disease. However, in some, it does not always lead to dementia. It is imperative that if you notice the signs in your loved one seeking medical help early as possible for diagnosis and possible treatment will benefit them. Your doctor will decide whether MCI is the most likely cause of your symptoms based on the information you provide and the results of various tests that can help clarify the diagnosis.

Certain medications could very well affect their memory. If your loved one is currently prescribed Valium or Ativan and you’re noticing strange behaviours, contact their physician to report these side effects. According to Bright Focus, certain medications have been shown to cause or are suspected of causing symptoms of dementia. Suppose your loved one is taking any medicines, as mentioned in the article. In that case, it is advised not to stop taking them without first consulting your physician as there are side effects to suddenly stopping medications.

The best possible way to deal with your loved one if they have cognitive impairment is to encourage them to stay active and stimulate their brain daily. There are local programs to assist in coping and ensuring your loved one is well taken care of. Research within your community to find what options are best suited for your loved one.