As we age, there are slight and gradual changes to memory and cognition, which occur in normal aging. There are, however, times when such changes seem to be greater than those seen with mild age related change. Such individuals experience these changes in one or several neurological domains that may result in a need for them to take a longer time to complete tasks and to get through their activities of daily living. This condition of mild cognitive impairment at times may remain stable and at times may gradually progress and potentially could reach the stage of Alzheimer’s disease.Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment might include:
- Memory loss.
- Language disturbance, such as difficulty with word finding.
- Attention deficit (such as difficulties following conversations).
- A decline in visuospatial skills, which might lead to disorientation in familiar surroundings.
- Difficulties with geographical sense or directional sense, such as when operating a motor vehicle.
The assessment of patients with mild cognitive complaints is thorough and detailed and involves a neurological examination and specific testing for further clarification of the nature and character of the problem. This always includes neurocognitive testing in our office, as well as a neurological history and examination. It may also include further testing, such as MR imaging of the brain, an electroencephalogram, blood work to evaluate for potential deficiencies or other abnormalities which might predispose to memory or cognitive impairment.
Patients with well established memory and cognitive impairments at the level of MCI may be offered medication intervention depending upon how their specific problem is characterized, as well as taking into mind their other medical conditions, medications and personal needs and concerns. The Alzheimer’s Research and Neurology Center at Neurological Associates of Albany does have research programs for interested patients who suffer from the problem of mild cognitive impairment.