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Mild Cognitive Impairment


Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a loss in memory. It does not get in the way of day-to-day tasks but can make it hard to make decisions and use language. MCI may raise the risk of getting dementia and Alzheimer disease later in life.

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The causes are not clear. It may be caused by early brain changes of dementia or Alzheimer disease.

Risk Factors

MCI is more common in people over 65 years of age. Things that may raise your risk are:


Symptoms may be:


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Cognitive tests will also be done. The doctor may also talk with family members and caregivers.

More tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis. For example:


Treatment is aimed at managing symptoms. Healthy habits can ease impact of symptoms. Steps may include:


There are no medicines that have been shown to help MCI. Some people may be given cholinesterase inhibitors to treat changes in thinking.


Healthy habits may lower the risk of MCI in some people. This means exercising, eating a healthful diet, not smoking, and staying mentally active.


American Psychiatric Association

National Institute on Aging


The Alzheimer Society of Canada

Seniors Canada


Albert MS, Dekosky ST, et al. The diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease: recommendations from the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer's Association workgroup on diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2011 May;7(3):270-279.

Mild cognitive impairment. Alzheimer's Association website. Available at: Accessed October 18, 2020.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed October 18, 2020.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 8/7/2020