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Cognitive Impairment, Dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease

What is mild cognitive impairment?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or to other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function. People with MCI, especially MCI involving memory problems, are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias than people without MCI. However, MCI does not always lead to dementia. In some individuals, MCI reverts to normal cognition or remains stable. In other cases, such as when a medication causes cognitive impairment, MCI is mistakenly diagnosed. That’s why it’s important that people experiencing cognitive impairment seek help as soon as possible for diagnosis and possible treatment.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is not a specific disease, but describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and accounts for 60 -80 percent of cases.  Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. For more information on types of dementias visit: http://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp

Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don't ignore them. See a doctor soon to determine the cause. Professional evaluation may detect a treatable condition. And even if symptoms suggest dementia, early diagnosis allows a person to get the maximum benefit from available treatments and provides time to plan for the future. http://aging.sc.gov/legal/Pages/LegalServices.aspx

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions.  In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.

Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's are 65 and older. But Alzheimer's is not just a disease of old age. Up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer's (also known as younger-onset), which often appears when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer's is among the ten leading causes of death in the United States Those with Alzheimer's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.

Take Brain Health to Heart

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