Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment

Many people confuse mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — memory loss that doesn’t impact daily functioning — with normal aging. 

Yet, MCI isn’t part of the typical aging process. This forgetful, confused thinking affects 12% to 18% of people ages 60 and older and can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. 

Symptoms include forgetting important information that should be recalled easily, such as names, conversations, or appointments; losing a train of thought or the thread of conversations, books, or movies; and feeling overwhelmed when following instructions. However, symptoms don’t affect the individual’s ability to carry out everyday activities. 

The best thing someone can do if they suspect mild cognitive impairment? Seek help from a qualified physician who can assess possible causes and offer strategies to slow the progression.

“The sooner treatment is initiated, the better for the person with the disease,” says Delia Jervier, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • 82% of Americans are unfamiliar with MCI.
  • 55% say MCI sounds like “normal aging,” when prompted with a description of MCI.
  • 57% say they would wait until they had symptoms of MCI for a while before talking to their doctor.