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mild cognitive impairment

Could You Have Mild Cognitive Impairment and Not Know It?

roger-miller-aviv-clinics by Dr. Roger Miller , Clinical Psychologist at Aviv Clinics
January 1, 2024
mild cognitive impairment

“More Than Seven Million Americans Have Undiagnosed Mild Cognitive Impairment.”

This was the alarming headline from the University of Southern California that unveiled the results of recent two studies on mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The first study, which was published in July 2023 in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, revealed that more than 90% of Americans with MCI may be unaware that they have the condition, which is a common precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Even more concerning, the second study, published three months later in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, estimated that 99% of physicians are underdiagnosing MCI.

How fast does Mild Cognitive Impairment Progress?

mild cognitive impairment

While MCI doesn’t automatically lead to dementia, early detection is still crucial. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, within five years of diagnosis, as many as one in three MCI patients will develop dementia. Identifying MCI early allows for the exploration of potential treatment options and the opportunity to make important legal and financial arrangements for their future care.

At Aviv Clinics, we see people every day who are experiencing MCI. While some are diagnosed beforehand, many come to our clinic because they suspect something is amiss. If find yourself in either of these groups, I’d like to take this opportunity to delve deeper into mild cognitive impairment.

Diagnosing Mild Cognitive Impairment

mild cognitive impairment

Determining if a patient has MCI can be challenging for several reasons. Biological aging causes changes to our brain tissue and cognitive function, so patients may dismiss mild confusion or memory loss as just a consequence of growing older rather than exploring the potential diagnosis of MCI.  

Second, MCI symptoms are inconsistent. In addition to memory loss, MCI can manifest itself as difficulty making decisions, attention issues, or language problems. People with MCI might also have symptoms of depression, irritability, anxiety or apathy. To learn more about some of the indications of mild cognitive impairment, read our blog, “Signs and Symptoms of Cognitive Decline.”

Third, physicians don’t always closely assess brain health, especially if a patient has arrived for another reason. A typical doctor’s visit lasts only about 17 minutes on average, and for older adults, cognitive health may take a backseat to diabetes, high blood pressure, or other age-related concerns.

Finally, the stigma surrounding cognitive impairment may cause people to hide symptoms. Nobody wants their loved ones to think they’re losing their mental acuity, and many older adults fear losing their independence. Consequently, they may withdraw from social interactions or make excuses for cognitive gaffes.

Testing for MCI

mild cognitive impairment

If your physician suspects mild cognitive impairment, they’ll likely refer you to a specialist for further examination. However, there’s no single test for MCI. Instead, diagnosis will typically include a combination of assessments.

Neuropsychological and cognitive function tests are vital, as they evaluate cognitive skills like memory, attention, judgement and planning. These examinations measure the degree of impairment. Psychological assessments can also provide a clearer picture of emotional factors that may be impacting cognitive function.

Specialists will also try to rule out other causes of cognitive dysfunction by reviewing medical and family history, symptoms, and medications.

Lab tests may reveal vitamin deficiencies, urinary tract infections, thyroid disorders and other ailments that can mimic MCI symptoms

Neurological examinations can detect conditions that impair cognitive function, such as a tumor or stroke.

Finally, radiological imaging can capture the structure and function of the brain. Diagnostic imaging can reveal brain atrophy or other potential causes of cognitive dysfunction, while functional imaging offers insight into blood flow and metabolic changes in brain tissue. While radiological imaging is often associated with stroke diagnosis, it can be effective in evaluating a number of conditions, including cognitive impairment.

The Aviv Assessment

mild cognitive impairment

At Aviv Clinics, we use all these tools as part of a comprehensive assessment of both brain and body function. This not only gives our clinical team a full picture of each client’s physical and cognitive health, but it also provides the insight we need to create customized treatment plan.

The Aviv Assessment includes:

  • Comprehensive, scientifically validated cognitive tests, including the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, and NeuroTrax
  • Neuropsychological evaluation
  • Extensive blood tests
  • High resolution brain MRI and/or SPECT scans to measure brain activity and structure
  • Tests of heart and lung function, including cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), spirometry, and electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Analysis of gait, stance, range of motion, strength, and balance
  • Body composition evaluation and dietary assessment

Treatment for Mild Cognitive Impairment at Aviv Clinics


A Columbia University study estimates that nearly one-quarter of seniors aged 65 and older lives with mild cognitive impairment. However, MCI isn’t necessarily permanent, and can sometimes be improved or even reversed.

The Aviv Medical Program is a safe, non-drug intervention that can slow down cognitive decline, particularly in its early stages. Cognitive benefits of the Aviv Medical Program can include:

  •       Better brain function and connectivity
  •       Stronger executive function (decision making, self-control, cognitive flexibility)
  •       Improved mental abilities including memory, attention, and focus
  •       Increased information processing speed
  •       Improvements in mood and psychological factors, such as depression or anxiety

After watching their parents suffer from dementia, Aviv clients Carl and Vickie feared that they were beginning to show some of the same alarming signs they’d observed in their parents. They decided to take control of their aging process through the Aviv Medical Program. Watch their Aviv Clinics recovery story:

People like Carl and Vickie are embracing their futures every day at Aviv Clinics. The results speak for themselves.

  •       96% of Aviv clients experience clinically verifiable improvements in brain function
  •       95% said they would recommend the Aviv Medical Program to their friends and loved ones

If you fear you or someone you love may be suffering from mild cognitive impairment, please contact us. The earlier we can diagnose the condition, the more likely we are able to treat it.

Aviv Medical Program provides you with a unique opportunity to invest in your health while you age

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