300922 Mild cognitive impairment
Many older adults worry about their memory and other thinking abilities. For example, they might be concerned about taking longer than before to learn new things, or they may sometimes forget to pay a bill. These changes are usually signs of mild forgetfulness — often a normal part of aging — not serious memory problems.
Some older adults have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, meaning they have more memory or other thinking problems than other people their age. People with MCI can usually take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimer’s.
Signs of MCI include:
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to important events or appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with desired words than other people of the same age
If you have MCI, visit your doctor every six to 12 months to track changes in memory and other thinking skills over time. There may be habits and behaviors you can change and activities you can do to help you maintain memory and thinking skills.
Cognitive health — the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember — is an important component of performing everyday activities. Cognitive health is just one aspect of overall brain health.
Brain health refers to how well a person’s brain functions across several areas. Aspects of brain health include:
- Cognitive health — how well you think, learn, and remember
- Motor function — how well you make and control movements, including balance
- Emotional function — how well you interpret and respond to emotions (both pleasant and unpleasant)
- Tactile function — how well you feel and respond to sensations of touch — including pressure, pain, and temperature
Brain health can be affected by age-related changes in the brain, injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, mood disorders such as depression, substance use disorder or addiction, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. While some factors affecting brain health cannot be changed, there are many lifestyle changes that might make a difference.