Mild Cognitive Impairment

What Is MCI?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) refers to frequent memory problems that may create some challenges, but do not affect a person’s daily activities. MCI is considered an early symptom of neurodegenerative disorders associated with memory, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.1

Early symptoms of MCI include2:

  • Frequently losing things
  • Often struggling to find the right words
  • Forgetting important appointments or events

MCI Is Not Just a Normal Part of Aging

While it is normal for people become more forgetful as they age, forgetting things on a regular basis — especially compared to others of a similar age — is not normal, and may be a sign of something more serious.1,2 In fact, as many as 1 in 10 people with MCI will develop dementia within 1 year.1

Early Testing

Many tests are available to investigate whether memory lapses are being caused by the early stages of a memory-related disease — like MCI — or something else. These tests may involve tests administered by the doctor such as a neurological examination, cognitive and behavioral tests to evaluate memory, attention, judgment and use of language, or computer-based tests to measure cognitive skills.3 Other more biology-based tests may involve taking blood samples or fluid from a spinal tap, or performing imaging to look for proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.3

There are some emerging treatments that may slow the disease progression of MCI associated with early Alzheimer’s disease.1 In the UK, there are several approved treatments for that can be effective in helping balance the brain chemicals affected by Alzheimer’s disease.4 New drugs that target different pathways associated with Alzheimer’s disease are currently in development and that could provide more potential options in the future.

In general, Alzheimer’s disease therapies are more likely to work if they are used early in the disease,5 which is why getting an early diagnosis is so important.6

Talk to a Doctor

The first step for someone experiencing potential symptoms of MCI is to talk to a doctor. Recognizing MCI early as a possible indicator of Alzheimer’s disease can be helpful for making important plans and life adjustments to reduce risks associated with progressive memory loss. It is also beneficial to help you and your doctor work out a treatment plan.2


1. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Accessed September 13, 2023.

2. What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment? | Accessed September 13, 2023.

3. Medical Tests. Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Accessed September 14, 2023.

4. Medication for dementia symptoms. Alzheimer’s Society. Published 2023. Accessed October 27, 2023.

5. Husna Ibrahim N, Yahaya MF, Mohamed W, Teoh SL, Hui CK, Kumar J. Pharmacotherapy of Alzheimer’s Disease: Seeking Clarity in a Time of Uncertainty. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:261. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.00261

6. Tahami Monfared AA, Byrnes MJ, White LA, Zhang Q. Alzheimer’s Disease: Epidemiology and Clinical Progression. Neurol Ther. 2022;11(2):553-569. doi:10.1007/s40120-022-00338-8