Mild Cognitive Impairment - Overview of MCI

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is defined by deficits in memory that do not significantly impact daily functioning. Memory problems may be minimal to mild and hardly noticeable to the individual. By contrast, in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients’ cognitive skills are affected and they gradually lose the ability to live independently.


Typical symptoms include:

  • trouble remembering the names of people they met
  • trouble remembering the flow of a conversion
  • more often misplace things

In some cases, patients may have difficulties in daily activities.

Usually the behavioral change is obvious enough for family members or relatives to notice. Most patients can realize it on their own, and they usually rely more on calendars and notes to compensate the memory loss.


The causes of mild cognitive impairment are not completely understood. Some believe MCI is the very early stage of AD, but it’s still a topic for continuing investigation. However, it is true that quite a portion of people with MCI develop into AD over a period of time.

The risk factors most strongly linked to MCI are the same as those for dementia: advancing age, family history of Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and conditions that raise risk for cardiovascular disease.


Doctors need tests and exams to diagnose. The common elements are:

  • understanding the thorough medical history, including medicines being taken and family history
  • assessment of independent function and daily activities
  • getting input from people close to the patient
  • assessment of mental status and evaluation of mood
  • neurological examination
  • lab tests


There is currently no specific treatment for MCI.

New medicines are under development. However, it’s clear that some drugs may impair memory, especially in older adults, including Valium®, Ativan®, Benadryl®, Tylenol PM®, Advil PM® (both contain Benadryl®), Cogentin® and many others.

These may help

  • Exercise on a regular basis to benefit your heart, brain and blood vessels
  • Control cardiovascular risk factors to protect your heart, brain and blood vessels
  • Participate in mentally stimulating and socially engaging activities
* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.