There is a simple test that can be done in the doctor’s office that can screen for potential dementia. Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, is generally the first stage in diseases of dementia. Many times, MCI is mistaken for normal changes in the aging process. This can be dangerous, as it can be early stages of dementia. Like other diseases, early detection is very important.
What are some of the symptoms of MCI?
Of course, the most common symptom people associate with diseases of dementia, is memory loss. Forgetting things more often, including important appointments, etcetera is generally one of the first things my patients notice. Losing their train of thought or the thread of conversations. Having trouble finding their way to or around familiar places. I‘ve personally seen this in patients who leave home quite early for their appointments in case they get lost. Having difficulty finding the right word for something commonplace, saying the same thing over and over, or asking the same question multiple times. This may also be a result of a hormone imbalance. Another very serious issue that should be screened for and treated early. Decision making may be more difficult and overwhelming. Behavior and mood changes are also quite common in the beginning stages of dementia. Be sure and listen to your loved ones if they mention an increase in your mood swings. Again, this may be a symptom of many other conditions that may be screened for and treated early.
Just because you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, it may not be indicative of early dementia, but when all the symptoms are shown, there is a trend that has to be interpreted by the medical provider, in order to make a final diagnosis, treatment plan, or referral to a specialist.
How soon can the symptoms of Alzheimer’s show up before an actual diagnosis is made?
The symptoms can show up as early as 20 years prior to the actual diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, “Although it is hard to know how many people are in the MCI stage of Alzheimer’s, some early research suggests that it may be about 1 in 12 Americans 65 years and older.”
What can be done if the symptoms show up early, and the test shows potential beginning stages of dementia?
There are some simple options available for MCI due to Alzheimer’s, including lifestyle changes, that may help improve your overall health.
Practice healthy habits: Lifestyle choices like proper nutrition. One of the most important changes you can make is eliminate sugar, including watching fruit and fruit juice intake. Many people do not realize that fructose is still sugar. Please review my article on Dementia now being called Type 3 diabetes. Sleeping well, and deeply. Another article I wrote, covered the necessity of not only sleeping for a healthy amount of time, but to sleep deeply enough. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of dementia. Regular exercise promotes good health can have cognitive benefits. Even just keeping to your schedule of walking daily, may help in slowing down the process. Keep up with social activities, like visiting and talking to friends and family can also provide emotional and cognitive benefits. Rather than just a phone call, try to use things like ZOOM or Face Time, so you can engage with the person face to face.
Learn new things and having hobbies, like crossword puzzles, cards, or any mentally challenging activities can help keep cognitive skills sharp, too.
Don’t keep any of these symptoms a secret. Please let someone know if you have these symptoms right away. Don’t try and hide it. This is a degenerative disease, and if you can let your doctor know early, preventive measures can be recommended before it’s too late.
We offer MCI testing in our office and do these tests regularly. If we find a trend in the testing process that indicates that you have MCI, we can help you to find a way to manage MCI due to Alzheimer’s. We may recommend you see a specialist, such as a neurologist or a geriatrician. They can further assess your cognitive health and explain what options may be available for you.
Please call my office for an appointment for a Medicare approved MCI test.
For any questions regarding my articles, please email me at:
Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Accurate Care Medical Wellness Center
18261 N Pima Rd. Suite 115
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
NEW NUMBER 480-584-3955
The old number will still ring through, but please take note and use this new number.