Forgetting Things? - Mild Cognitive Impairment Due to AD
Starting to Forget
As we age, it’s normal to start forgetting things. For instance, we can’t recall names or numbers as quickly as we used to. But when these lapses start to become obvious, both to ourselves and to those around us, we may be experiencing the first symptoms of dementia, called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with MCI may forget recent events such as conversations or events and have trouble performing more than one task at a time. They may also take longer to complete tasks that were easy for them to get done before. Symptoms are mild and often subtle; changes in memory, attention, planning, or language skills do not affect social or occupational function. Knowing people well, or seeing them over time, will help determine if these changes are notable or progressive.
How do doctors detect MCI?
There is no definitive test for MCI, but doctors rely on a combination of factors to pinpoint those who might be experiencing this first stage of dementia. Persistent changes in brain functions involving memory, attention, language, or learning, reported by either the patient or a family member, strongly suggest MCI, but it’s also important that the changes aren’t profound enough to affect the patient’s ability to function independently yet.
How does MCI relate to Alzheimer’s?
Not all patients who develop MCI go on to develop Alzheimer’s. If you were to look at a pool of patients with MCI due to AD, about 15% will progress on to AD per year. Doctors are working on ways to identify this small proportion of people at highest risk.