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Ways to Cope with Mild Cognitive Impairment – Greensboro, NC

- Monday, January 25, 2016

If you've ever walked into a room and forgotten why you went there, fret not. That's normal. What's not is forgetting important details from recent life events or repeating the same question several times. Other symptoms and signs of mild cognitive impairment can include problems in other aspects of thinking such as significant difficulties retrieving words, finding routes or planning out complex tasks. There can be emotional and mood-related symptoms including irritability, depression and anxiety. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with MCI, consider these coping strategies:

 1. Make a list and check it more than twice.

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests making a list of tasks that may have become more challenging to remember on a daily basis, such as taking medications or other daily activities. Ensure you have your calendar up to date, have reminders set and write it down right away if you’re not an electronic person.

 2. Be aggressive ... or not.

Some may opt for more aggressive approaches to treatment, such as undergoing additional tests for markers that help determine the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of MCI; early treatment with medications; or participation in clinical studies. Others prefer a less aggressive ‘wait and see’ type approach that would involve checking in with their doctor at a later point. Simply learning as much as you can about MCI and dementia is another less aggressive approach to coping with the diagnosis.

3. Set realistic goals

Developing MCI can be frustrating, so it's important to set achievable goals and stick to established plans. The best way of coping is to break things down. Compensate by going around the challenge and not trying to meet it head on. In other words, try not to stress too much about not being able to do things as well as you did before. Instead, only focus on what you can control.

4. Get out there!

Many become embarrassed and don't want to interact with others. But staying physically and socially active is an essential coping method. Research has suggested that regular physical activity and social interactions can stave off the risk for Alzheimer's disease, MCI or dementia. More recently, three studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in the District of Columbia found that aerobic exercise could influence the development of these conditions. Bicycling, gardening or simply taking a walk after dinner can help protect your aging brain.

 5. Asking for help doesn't make you weak.

This is a time of transition, and with transition comes the need for support. It's very useful to be able to have input from a partner or someone who is living with the person. Consider individual counseling or support groups offered by the Alzheimer's Association and other groups recommended by the NIH. It's important for family members to understand the symptoms as changes in the brain that cannot simply be willed away or overcome through sheer force of effort.

For information on memory care, contact Spring Arbor.

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