Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some older people find themselves with short term memory loss. It's an aggravating source of frustration and tends to get worse with time. Eventually it passes an arbitrary line and becomes mild cognitive impairment.  Doctors specializing in geriatrics differ on the precise  characteristics that change the diagnosis from memory loss to mild cognitive impairment. 

Unfortunately, I seem to have passed the line. Doctors looked at the result of a Cat-Scan and decided that I now have mild cognitive impairment. As far as I know this ailment will continue to get worse rather than better. It may take decades or only a few years, but unless I die first it will someday reach a branch in the road. One path leading forward is called "dementia". The other is called "Alzheimer's Disease".

There seems to be few differences in either diagnosis. The symptoms and ultimate outcome is the same. My symptoms are following one of those paths. As the patient recognizes the slow  mental failures the questions multiply.  Often other symptoms of aging often cause death before either dementia or Alzheimer's does.

Most people with advanced symptoms are generally unable to care for themselves. This places an undesired burden upon whomever becomes the caregiver, and sadly, the gradual fading of conscious ability can take years. The patient doesn't know or care or understand anything that occurs to him or her. The burden of dealing with either dementia or Alzheimer's falls completely on caregivers. In most cases the caregivers are from the patients family until the care becomes impossible for them to handle. At that stage the patient is usually committed to a professional hospital or hospice care.

Then it ends.

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