Are there any other “This Is Us” fans who eagerly awaited episode 10 last week? Spoiler alert for those who have not yet watched. Yes, as we suspected, Rebecca was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Her diagnosis is a fitting introduction for today’s blog as January is Alzheimers’ Awareness month. Now let’s be clear, MCI is not Alzheimer’s disease. MCI according to the Alzheimer’s Society “may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. However, some people remain stable and others may even show an improvement in cognitive abilities over time. Not everyone diagnosed with MCI goes on to develop Alzheimer’s.” However as it is a memory related condition I am writing about it today. I had previously blogged on this very subject and have reposted it, as it does not seem that much has changed.
Baycrest’s clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Nicole Anderson, defines MCI as “the boundary zone or transition state between normal aging and dementia.” Dr. Anderson and colleagues have written the first book on MCI, designed for the general public. Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Guide to Maximizing Brain Health and Reducing Risk of Dementia provides information and advice.
She reviewed that 10-15% of adults aged 65 + are believed to have MCI, which causes cognitive problems that ‘go beyond what would be expected due to normal aging.’ The good news Dr. Anderson adds, is that MCI is not as severe as dementia and those living with MCI are able to function independently. However, they are at a higher risk of developing dementia, she cites studies that show over six years, 80% of individuals with MCI have progressed to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. She compares this number to only 16% of healthy older adults without a diagnosis of MCI, go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease over a 6 year period.
Baycrest offers the ‘Learning the Ropes for Living with MCI’ program aimed for those individuals and families who are living with MCI. Yes, January is Alzheimers’ Awareness Month and it is appropriate to also pay attention to Mild Cognitive Impairment.