Mild Cognitive Impairment: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that between 10 and 20 percent of individuals over age 65 are thought to have mild cognitive impairment? In this lesson, we will learn all about mild cognitive impairment, its symptoms, causes, and how it is treated.

What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Rob is a 68-year-old retired professor. Although Rob can still function quite well on his own, Rob has noticed that his memory isn't as good as it used to be. Rob has to set calendar alerts for all of his appointments because he forgets them often. Rob often misplaces his keys and finds it difficult to keep up with conversations. Rob's wife also noticed Rob's increasingly forgetful behavior. After forgetting the route to his favorite ice cream shop and getting lost, Rob decides that it is time to see a doctor. Rob is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment,which is characterized by impairments in memory, thinking, and/or judgment that are strong enough for you to notice, but do not interfere with the ability to live independently or perform your usual activities. Between 10 and 20 percent of individuals over age 65 are thought to have mild cognitive impairment.

What are the Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Rob displayed many of the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment, including forgetting appointments, losing things often, problems navigating to familiar places, and trouble keeping up with a conversation. It is also common for family members to notice a change in memory capabilities. Other symptoms of mild cognitive impairment include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed when looking at instructions, planning things out, and making choices
  • Increase in impulsive behavior
  • Impaired judgment

What Causes Mild Cognitive Impairment?

We do not yet know what causes mild cognitive impairment. However, researchers have found a relationship between mild cognitive impairment and certain brain changes that are associated with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. The risk factors that are associated with mild cognitive impairment are advanced age, having a family member with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, and conditions that increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

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