Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a degenerative syndrome that describes a stage or period in time between what might be considered normal forgetfulness (due to advanced aging) and the development of dementia.
When a person is said to have mild cognitive impairment, he or she likely has difficulty with thinking and memory issues that aren't all that important or that don't interfere with everyday activities. People with mild cognitive impairment tend to either know they have the syndrome or are at least aware of the onset of their forgetfulness.
Although MCI is the stage before dementia, not everyone who has MCI will develop dementia.
Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment
According to the US National Library of Medicine, symptoms of mild cognitive impairment include, but aren't strictly limited to the following:
- Problems performing more than one task at a time
- Difficulty in problem solving and making decisions
- Forgetfulness regarding recent events or conversations
- Needing more time to carry out more difficult mental tasks
While mild cognitive impairment can be seen as a normal part of aging, dementia is not. Dementia is a true loss of brain function which occurs as a consequence of a disease. These diseases include Alzheimer's disease (which is the leading cause of dementia), Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and infections that affect the brain.
People with dementia have major cognitive issues affecting memory, language, behavior, judgment and thinking. Typically, dementia is a progressive disease and cannot be reversed. However, in the case of dementia caused by brain injury, brain tumors, chronic alcohol abuse, and some other situations, the dementia can be stopped or reversed if it is detected early enough.
Early signs or symptoms of dementia include the following:
- Problems performing tasks that require thought, but that once came easily, like playing card games and learning new information or routines
- Getting lost in routes that should be very familiar
- Language issues, like failing to remember the name of objects
- Lost interest in things previously enjoyed
- Losing or misplacing things
- Loss of social skills and subsequent inappropriate social behaviors