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What is the Difference Between Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's?

September 13th, 2019

By: Lenora Alabi

Your mom's behavior has been extremely concerning. She's suddenly calling you three times a day saying she hasn't spoken to you in weeks. She leaves work and forgets to lock the office door and set the security alarm. This is unlike her.

After seeing her doctor, you're told it's not the Alzheimer's your family fears. It's mild cognitive impairment. What does that mean? What are the differences between mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease?

What is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Mild cognitive impairment is the term used when someone's memory and cognitive function have declined more than they should with normal aging. Friends and family members notice the differences, but they don't change daily activities or the ability to take care of one's self. 

With mild cognitive impairment, someone may need to write a list of steps in order to do something correctly without forgetting a step. The person may find it hard to remember how to get to a location that's only visited now and then. A forgotten dental appointment, bill payment, or party are other indicators of the condition.

There is a chance that the mild cognitive impairment will progress into Alzheimer's down the road, but it's not a certainty. The Mayo Clinic reports that 10 to 15 percent of people with the condition go on to develop Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Some people find their memory and cognitive function stay the same or even improves over time. Sometimes, mild cognitive impairment is present along with poor sleep, high blood pressure, or depression.

How Does Alzheimer's Differ?

Alzheimer's also starts with forgetfulness, loss of the sense of direction and getting from one place to another, and confusion when following directions. It progresses and affects speech, gait, and mood. Your mom may become extremely agitated and repeated yell at you that she wants to go home even if she's already in her home.

If your mom has mild cognitive impairment, watch for signs that it's progressing. Doctors may overlook the signs that it's shifted, but those who are closest to her won't miss the signs.

Your mom may need senior care services to help her with her treatment plan. She'll be given medications that help slow the symptoms of Alzheimer's. She needs to take these each day. She may also be told to take an antidepressant if she is depressed or dealing with anxiety. Senior care aides can remind her when it's time to take her medications.

If the condition does progress, she's already used to her caregivers. It will be less alarming if she has time to slowly acclimate to care and the people caring for her. Call a senior care agency to make arrangements sooner rather than later.

Sources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment/symptoms-causes/syc-20354578 

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING HIRING SENIOR CARE IN THE LOOP, IL, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT BRIGHTSTAR CARE CHICAGO. CALL TODAY: 312.382.8888.