November 2014 For many of you, dealing with a family member, relative or friend with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) for the first time can be a stressful and worrisome experience. First off, you don’t know what you are dealing with and how to respond to the person or situation. The very subtle changes you are seeing in this person such as forgetting names and dates that came easily to them before are quickly being brushed aside.
They just think they are having a bad day or they’re getting older and this just happens to us all. It’s easier to find excuses than to admit there might be a greater problem. You need to dig a little deeper. If the memory loss extends to information just learned minutes prior and then forgotten there may be cause for concern. Do you find yourself having to remind them of an appointment several times and each time they react to the information as though they are hearing it for the first time? Are they having difficulty keeping track of bills or calculating receipt costs that was once very simple for them to do? Or have you been finding items in odd places from time to time, such as a coffee pot in the refrigerator. If so, you should investigate further. These were just a few possible signs to look out for, and it does not mean that your loved one has Alzheimer’s – it just means that you should probably take some exploratory steps. It may be hard to have them visit a health care professional if you tell them you are going there to test them for Dementia. Especially when they do not recognize the early signs of cognitive impairment in themselves or are in denial of what is happening to them. Please encourage them to go in for a full medical. Once there a preliminary test can be completed as part of the process without ever mentioning the words Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Once you are successful in having them seen (contact your family Doctor to obtain a referral to a Doctor trained in Geriatric Care) by a health care professional. This will determine as to whether further diagnosis is required. As a preliminary diagnosis many health care professionals use one form of testing over another such as the Modified Mini-Mental or the MoCa test which is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. These tests are used to determine if a form of dementia may exist. Quite often the MoCA test is being seen as the go to test over the Mini-Mental as the preliminary test of choice. However, always refer to your healthcare professional for appropriate test type. The testing process for the MoCa test is based on a 30 point value system whereby a normal, healthy individual would score 26 or higher while someone with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) would score somewhere between 19 and 25.2 (www.mocatest.org) . The exam takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and it “assesses the domains of attention and concentration, executive functions, memory, language, visuoconstructional skills, conceptual thinking, calculations, and orientation (Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing, New York University, College of Nursing)”. You can see the test on-line at www.mocatest.org. If English is not your primary language the test can be downloaded in 36 other languages. Once the health care professional has completed the initial testing it will indicate whether a more thorough examination is required to identify the exact type of dementia you are dealing with. It will also help clarify what stage in the disease process the person is in, what you need to do and what to expect going forward. One thing we have always said to clients dealing with possible MCI is not to ignore it and sweep it under the rug. Although there aren’t any cures for the disease at this time the earlier you recognize it the better. There are medications on the market that can slow down the progression of the disease but only if it is recognized in its early stages. Written by Paul Rade Director of Operations www.firstclasshomecareinc.com Visit us at Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-Class-Home-Care-Inc/539350739441811