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Signs and Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Recognizing that something isn’t right can be a scary feeling. You just recently met someone you chatted to for over an hour, yet you can’t remember their name – that’s not like you. What does it mean? You’re in your 60s, could you be developing dementia? Before you jump to conclusions, it’s important to understand all possibilities.

We are so accustom to the word dementia, that many are not aware of a less severe syndrome known as mild cognitive impairment. As we get older, it’s normal to experience the odd senior moment, however, noticeable impairments are generally due to some other factor. Based on the symptoms below, is it possible that you are suffering from MCI?

Signs and Symptoms of MCI

In order to be diagnosed with MCI, you would need to display at least one of these key symptoms:

  1. Issues with your memory
  1. Another form of neurological dysfunction – issues with language, poor sensory perception, a lack of executive functioning, or reduced motor activity

Unlike dementia, MCI does not affect your ability to function independently on a day-to-day basis. In many cases, individuals are fully aware of their impairments and will find ways to compensate. Although symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s, they are much less severe. If MCI progresses, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Asking the same question repeatedly
  • Repeating the same information or telling the same stories
  • Increased issues with tasks such as paying bills or organizing your taxes
  • A reduced ability to follow multi-step instructions, such as a recipe
  • A diminished ability to focus during conversations
  • Increased difficulty remembering simple things
  • Feeling more overwhelmed than usual when aiming to make a decision
  • Losing your train of thought more frequently

For those who suffer from MCI, it’s also possible to exhibit symptoms associated with emotional instability, such as anxiety, depression, or irritability. These are what’s referred to as secondary symptoms.

It is critical that you monitor these symptoms and track any significant changes. Keep records of your symptoms so that your doctor has a clearer picture of what’s been occurring on a day-to-day basis.

Although MCI affects memory, it does not hinder long-term memory. If you begin to experience loss of long-term memory as well as short-term memory, increased neurological difficulty, changes in personality, or an increase in poor judgement – you may be experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If you are suffering from MCI, you should be able to retain the ability to think sharply and effectively reason.



Family Caregiver Alliance. (2011). Mild Cognitive Impairment. Retrieved from https://www.caregiver.org/mild-cognitive-impairment-mci


VirginiaTech. (2006). Mild Cognitive Impairment – What Do We Do Now? Retrieved from http://www.gerontology.vt.edu/docs/Gerontology_MCI_final.pdf



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