In This Episode:
Dr. K responds to a reader who wants to know what works best for treating mild cognitive impairment. She covers:
- How mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is defined and diagnosed
- Whether having difficulty connecting names and faces is a sign of MCI
- What a clinical evaluation for MCI should cover
- The research on medications, exercise, and other approaches to treating MCI
- What to know before taking a dementia medication such as donepezil (brand name Aricept) for MCI
- 9 ways to promote brain health
- Q&A: What Can I Do to Treat Mild Cognitive Impairment? (links to related research are in this article)
- How We Diagnose Dementia: The Practical Basics To Know
- IOM Cognitive Aging Report
- Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test
- Otago Exercise Program to Prevent Falls
- 4 Types of Medication to Avoid if You’re Worried About Memory
- 5 Top Causes of Sleep Problems in Seniors, & Proven Ways to Treat Insomnia
- NutritionFacts.org: How Not to Die
- How to Promote Brain Health: The Healthy Aging Checklist Part 1
Gretchen Brauer-Rieke says
You didn’t mention the role of alcohol use, which seems to make a big difference in memory among the people that I know in an almost proportional way (the more alcohol intake, the more memory issues). Any good research on that?
Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH says
Yes, alcohol affects memory and cognitive function in the short-term, and then alcoholism itself can cause significant impacts on the brain. The NIH has a good summary here: Alcohol’s Damaging Effect on the Brain.
An evaluation for MCI or really any kind of cognitive impairment should always include an assessment of substance use and a check for substance abuse.
In terms of whether regular or moderate alcohol use affects memory, the research on that is more mixed. Here are a few recent articles:
Alcohol effects on Cognitive Change in Middle-Aged and Older Adults
The relationship between midlife and late life alcohol consumption, APOE e4 and the decline in learning and memory among older adults
Alcohol consumption in mild cognitive impairment and dementia: harmful or neuroprotective?