How is mild cognitive impairment assessed?

Updated: Apr 22, 2019
  • Author: Sonal Mehta, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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To demonstrate that a patient’s cognitive function is worse than would normally be expected for his or her age, neuropsychological testing is necessary so that the patient’s performance can be compared with that of an age-matched (and, ideally, education-matched) control group.

Mild degrees of cognitive impairment, particularly when self-reported by patients, pose a substantial challenge to the clinician. The physician may be dealing with a patient with a mild or transient condition, a drug-induced adverse effect, or a depressive disorder; the patient may be in the early stages of a condition that will eventually lead to a dementia; or the complaint may be due to a psychological condition rather than an organic brain disorder.

Because a variety of conditions may result in a complaint of cognitive impairment, an individualized workup for such conditions and a consensus on a therapeutic approach should be sought. To date, no medications have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of MCI.

For patient education resources, see the Dementia Center, as well as Possible Early Dementia.

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