As people age, they may start presenting certain physical and mental limitations and impairments.
And the more apparent the limitations, the more likely they’re noticed and addressed –e.g., mobility issues can be solved with a walker, wheelchair, or mobility scooter; hearing and seeing issues are treated using hearing aids and eyeglasses.
But there’s a kind of impairment that goes beyond those related to normal aging.
It’s what known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and it describes the stage between normal cognitive decline connected to aging and something a lot for serious such as dementia.
What makes it so problematic is that it’s hard to notice (and thereby address), as again it’s normal for people to have some memory issues as they age. MCI may only become apparent after some scrutiny by people who really know them.
For instance, it may be normal for you to have an expired carton of milk in a fridge every now and then, but you know your mom would never overlook such a thing, so finding old milk in her fridge again and again may mean something else altogether.
Or let’s say you know a lot of indecisive people over the years, but you are sure that your ex-military, retired high-level corporate executive dad is NOT one of them. So, finding him stressed and struggling to decide on what and where he wants to eat may matter.
No one, single, sign or act may mean a person has MCI, but each instance should be noted, scrutinized, and taken seriously.
Here is an MCI signs checklist from the Mayo Clinic you can use:
- Are they forgetting things more often?
- Do they forget important events such as appointments or social engagements?
- Do they lose their train of thought or the thread of conversations, books or movies?
- Are they increasingly overwhelmed when making decisions, planning steps to accomplish a task or understanding instructions?
- Do they have trouble finding your way around familiar environments?
- Do they become more impulsive or show increasingly poor judgment?
Missing or ignoring the signs of mental impairment could lead to catastrophic outcomes that could put them or the people around them at great risk or injury.
MCI must be addressed, and the good news is that it can be.
While there are no cures for MCI or dementia yet, there are solutions and specialized professionals to help people with impairments lead happy, healthy, fulfilling lives while maintaining plenty of independence in right in their own homes!
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