Mild cognitive impairment: What it is, how to prevent it

I just returned for the Geriatric Medicine Symposium, "Update on the Care and Management of Older Adults with Dementia," s
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


I just returned for the Geriatric Medicine Symposium, "Update on the Care and Management of Older Adults with Dementia," sponsored by the University of Toledo. With one out of 10 adults 65-older and half of those 85-older having a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease or a related disorder, it's obvious why this is a hot topic.

At this symposium I learned of a new condition that often is a precursor to Alzheimer's. This condition is called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). This condition is the transition stage between normal aging and a serious dementia.

Dementia is a broad term that describes many types of diseases that deteriorates the brain's ability to communicate, think, reason and remember. Cognition is the ability to process information, interpret it, remember it and use it when needed.

A person suffering from MCI knows something is not right, cognitively. But publicly, things haven't gotten to the point that it's really a problem. People with MCI are still able to function at a high level, yet deep inside they know something isn't right.

There are two types of MCI. Amnestic MCI, which affects the memory and Nonamnestic MCI, which affects other areas, such as attention span or language. Diagnosing MCI is tricky. It's a stage that can be explained away by the person suffering from the problem. Even if the person affected with MCI brought their memory problem to their doctor's attention and was screened using a standard examination, it's entirely possible the impairment would go undetected. Only when such a patient is tested further does evidence of MCI present itself.

Those actively engaged in leisure activities are at lesser risk of acquiring this condition. This finding is significant because "a recent Mayo Clinic study suggests that 12 percent of those over the age of 70 have mild cognitive impairment. People with MCI are three to four times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than those without such impairment." And the Alzheimer's Association reports people with Amnestic MCI have an increased risk for developing Alzheimer's Disease during the next few years.

If active leisure lifestyle will preserve your brain's health, it is to everyone's benefit we all become active -- mentally and physically. You can't start too soon, and you can't start too late. If you are seeking ways to become more active and improve your leisure activity during your retirement, call our office at 419-624-1856 or 800-564-1856.


Q: I just turned 65 and still work for my same employer who still provides me with health insurance. I haven't signed up for Medicare because my current health insurance is very good. Am I going to pay a penalty when I retire and then sign up for Medicare?

A: I asked Tom Finton, field representative with the Social Security Administration here in Sandusky. He said if a person has health insurance coverage from an employer and at least 20 people are in the group, then the employer plan is the primary coverage and Medicare would be a supplement, while the person is an active employee. Most people in this situation sign up for Medicare Part A, as there is no premium for it. They generally decline Medicare Part B (unless they need it as a supplement to the employer's coverage) and sign up for Part B at the time of retirement. If they can document that they had employer group health insurance, they will not have a higher premium as a penalty when they sign up for Part B later. They are given a special enrollment period.

Now a person who does not have insurance coverage from an employer would have to pay a premium that is 10 percent higher for each year that they delay enrolling beyond age 65.

Q: My mom suffered a stroke recently. She is able to do most things for herself, but still needs some help. I would like to know what things are available to help her and to help me be supportive as she continues to work at getting better.

A: There is The Stroke Club. They just met March 6 for their regular meeting. They have a social get together coming up at 11:30 a.m. March 20 at Damon's Restaurant. The next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. April 3 in the cafeteria meeting room of Firelands Medical Center -- South Campus, 1912 Hayes Ave., Sandusky. If you are computer savvy, there will be a National Stroke Association free web-based presentation for stroke survivors and their families "Treating Stroke Related Movement Problems," from noon-1 p.m. March 28. Topic - .