Are you forgetting more and more?
Do you have a family member who is bright, and still able to manage his or her finances, but seems to be forgetting not just names, but simple things like “Did I eat breakfast today?” or “What did I eat today”? If you are aware of this memory challenge, but it does not interfere with daily activities of living, you or your family member might have what we call MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment).
Mild Cognitive Impairment is diagnosed by a neurologist, memory clinic or neuropsychologist. A diagnosis of MCI does not mean you will have a progressive dementia like Alzheimer’s disease; however, about fifty percent of those with the MCI diagnosis end up with some form of a progressive dementia. The other fifty percent never progress further than this challenge with memory.
If diagnosed with MCI, the individual, his or her partner and/or a family member should visit with an Aging Life Care Professional. Also referred to as a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM). The GCM will go over all the planning one should do when diagnosed with any potentially progressive illness. This entails going over with you the financial options/entitlements, housing options, legal tools, social engagement, physical wellness and local support or opportunities. Having a Geriatric Care Manager as your advocate is similar to using a roadmap to navigate your present and future. At Eldercare Services, we offer several Comprehensive Aging Life Care Plans. Plan 1 is The Road Map – which begins with you telling your unique story. When all your history unfolds, a Road Map is developed that enables you to take control of your life.
Eldercare Services is always willing to do a short no fee memory screen to see if you should be referred to a specialist.
The screening takes about 20 minutes; the session is conducted by a professional on our staff. These screenings are not scary and are extremely helpful. It is also essential to have a proper medical evaluation to help reverse any of the biochemical imbalances or health challenges that can contribute to a memory challenge.
Staying engaged in joyful and pleasurable activities that keep the body and mind healthy is also important.
A good life plan is ideal for us all, but even more critical for those with MCI, as it encourages you to:
- Be engaged in social activities daily. Senior centers, brain enhancement classes, meeting friends, playing cards, learning new things, joining book clubs, and volunteering are all good ways to be active in your community. Our third Friday speaker series this March will feature a new (free) program using horses with those who have mild dementia or early-stage dementia. “The Connected Horse” program runs for seven-weekly sessions. Those who participate will groom and lead horses in an open arena. There is no riding as the emphasis is on therapeutic stress reduction and multi-sensory awareness. You can learn more about this program at our lecture, which will take place in our office on March 15th from 2-3:30. All are welcome, but we ask that you register – (925)-937-2018 – as we have limited seating.
- Exercise daily – Aim for 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity at least three times a week. Perform balance and strength building exercises as well.
- Eat a healthy anti-inflammatory diet – Limit red meats, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. Add in healthy fats such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil while removing any trans and saturated fats. Also, add more veggies and fruit to your plate and hydrate with mostly water.
- Have regular medical check-ups – Be sure to check your hearing and eyesight annually as well.
- Ask for help! If you feel depressed or otherwise affected by your MCI, don’t be afraid to seek treatment (counseling and/or medication.) Enjoy your life!