Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which an older adult suffers from memory impairment and a decline in their cognitive abilities. Up to 20 percent of people aged 65 and older have MCI. Doctors diagnose the problem by administering verbal tests to the older adult. However, a new study suggests that men and women respond differently to the tests, so scoring them by gender could change who is diagnosed with MCI and who is not.
MCI Tests and Gender
Research shows that the average woman has better verbal skills than the average man. However, the tests used to diagnose MCI don’t reflect those differences. To find out how gender differences might affect MCI diagnosis, researchers used data from 985 people who had participated in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Using the data, the researchers recalculated the cut-off scores for men and women separately instead of using the same score for both.
Using the new scores, the researchers determined that 10 percent more women would be diagnosed with MCI. The new scores for men, on the other hand, would result in 10 percent fewer cases of MCI. This means that under the current guidelines, women who should be diagnosed with MCI are being missed while some men are being diagnosed who shouldn’t be.
The research is new, and no medical guidelines have been changed based on it. That means that if your aging relative has received a diagnosis of MCI, you should continue to follow the doctor’s advice.
A diagnosis of MCI often begins with family caregivers noticing symptoms in their older family members. Some of the symptoms to watch for are:
- Increased forgetfulness.
- Forgetting important appointments.
- Having difficulty following the thread of a conversation, book, or movie.
- Trouble completing tasks with multiple steps, understanding instructions, or making decisions.
- Getting lost in familiar places.
- Acting more impulsively or making poor choices.
People who have MCI may also experience emotional disorders, such as:
Tips for People with MCI
MCI can progress to dementia, but there are ways your older family member can lessen the chances of that happening. Some tips for living with MCI are:
- Take all prescription medications as directed, since they help to keep underlying conditions that can lead to dementia under control.
- Quit smoking.
- Reduce stress.
- Stick to a regular routine to minimize memory issues.
- Use calendars, notes, and reminders to prevent forgetting important dates.
In addition to following the tips above, senior care can also help older adults with MCI to cope with the condition better. Senior care providers can offer medication reminders, so the older adult doesn’t forget to take prescription medications. They can also help the senior to follow their daily routine and remember to go to appointments. In fact, a senior care provider can drive your aging relative to their appointments, ensuring they do not get lost on the way.