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Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): How Constant Therapy can help

Constant Therapy | Dementia, Brain health

“I always recommend Constant Therapy for my clients and caregivers of those clients who have been diagnosed with MCI. It provides an accessible and immediately actionable way for them to address the cognitive challenges that come along with MCI.” – Constant Therapy clinician in a skilled nursing facility

Have you or a loved one noticed you are forgetting important events such as appointments or social engagements, losing your train of thought or the thread of conversations, or feeling increasingly overwhelmed by making decisions, planning how to accomplish a task, or understanding instructions? If you are also in certain risk categories (see below), you may have Mild Cognitive Impairment (known as MCI). Only a medical professional can correctly diagnose MCI, so consult your doctor as a first step. If you or a loved one are diagnosed with MCI, Constant Therapy can help overcome those challenges associated with MCI. 

In this article, we explain more about MCI, its symptoms and causes, and how Constant Therapy’s evidence-based cognitive exercises are designed to address the symptoms of MCI. 

What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

For those who may be unfamiliar with it, Mild Cognitive Impairment causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individual affected or by their family and friends but do not affect the individual’s ability to get through the activities of everyday living (and this is the difference between MCI and other cognitive conditions like dementia). Approximately 12-18% of people 60 or older are living with MCI.

The causes of MCI are not clear, but it appears that some of the same risks for Alzheimer’s disease are also risks for MCI. Those risks include:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Family history of MCI, Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of dementia
  • Medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, high cholesterol, or heart disease
  • Substance abuse
  • Lack of exercise

Mild Cognitive Impairment can develop for multiple reasons. Some individuals living with MCI may go on to develop dementia; others will not. For some individuals, given the right support, MCI reverts to normal cognition or remains stable. 

Experts classify Mild Cognitive Impairment based on the kinds of cognitive skills affected:

  • Amnestic MCI. Primarily affects memory. Individuals may forget important information that they would previously have recalled easily, such as appointments, conversations, or recent events.
  • Nonamnestic MCI. Primarily affects thinking skills other than memory, including the ability to make sound decisions and judgments, judge the time or sequence of steps needed to complete a task or visual perception.

What are the symptoms of MCI?

The symptoms of MCI are not as severe as the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. For example, people with MCI do not experience personality changes or other problems that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s. 

Signs of Mild Cognitive Impairment may include:

  • Losing things frequently
  • Forgetting to go to events or appointments
  • Having more trouble coming up with words in conversation than other people the same age
  • Losing track of the thread of a conversation, book, or movie
  • Movement difficulties
  • Problems with sense of smell 

If you are worried that you or someone you love may have some cognitive impairments, rather than trying to diagnose it yourself or second-guessing the difference between MCI or something more severe like dementia, it’s important to seek medical help for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How is Mild Cognitive Impairment diagnosed?

A clinician will likely do a medical evaluation which will include a thorough exploration of your cognitive symptoms and complaints. Depending on the results of this evaluation, further testing may be necessary, including blood work and brain imaging. Additional assessment might include neuropsychological testing to document memory deficits and assess severity.

How can Constant Therapy help with MCI? Which evidence-based exercises work best?

There currently is no standard treatment or approved medication for MCI, but there are things that individuals can do that may help them stay healthy and deal with cognitive changes – for example, eating well, getting exercise and sleep, sticking to a routine, staying social, and continuing to learn new skills. And because MCI may be an early sign of more serious memory problems, it’s important to see a medical professional regularly who can help track changes in memory and cognitive skills over time. 

In addition, Constant Therapy may help to overcome many of the challenges that MCI creates. Preliminary research has shown encouraging results that Constant Therapy may help patients with MCI maintain their cognitive skills. Therapy exercises that are part of the Constant Therapy app, like  “Identify picture categories” or “Identify picture rhymes” can help with word retrieval, combating that “tip of the tongue” feeling when you can’t think of the word that you want. “Read a calendar” or “Read everyday things” exercises can help you practice using tools that will help you keep track of your appointments. Attention and memory-focused therapy activities in the app, like “Find alternating symbols” or “Remember pictures in order (N-Back)”, can help to combat the frustration of forgetting things throughout the day. “Understand voicemails” can help you practice focusing on, understanding, and remembering auditory information, all within a real-world task.

The takeaway

To be clear, 1) MCI is not the same as dementia or Alzheimer’s, 2) being diagnosed with MCI does not necessarily mean dementia will follow, and 3) just because an individual feels they are more forgetful, does not mean they have MCI – it must be diagnosed by a medical professional based on standard guidelines.

However, there are some things you can do if you are diagnosed with MCI, and one of those is to regularly practice science-based cognitive exercises with Constant Therapy.

>> Start a free trial of Constant Therapy today.

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