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Dementia Definitions: Subjective Cognitive Impairment or Mild Cognitive Impairment

Posted Dec 06 2010 12:00am

In an effort to help family and professional caregivers recognize the nuances of cognitive decline within their loved ones, some new terms are out there that need defining:  Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

At the recent International Alzheimer's Conference in Hawaii, those who study the development of dementia, discussed these two "pre-dementia" definitions to help clarify the cognitive decline process.

Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI, you may have heard of already.  This term has been around for a bit and refers to a condition where there are problems in areas such as language, memory or other parts of mental functioning that are noticeable to others or are picked up during testing.  MCI does NOT interfere with daily life or it would then be classified as dementia.

Subjective Cognitive Impairment, also referred to as SCI, represents those with very subtle memory or functioning problems that are not visible to others or pop up on tests.

Why are SCI and MCI important to us?  Because they are now showing us that a "dementia continuum" exists with SCI being the first stage, MCI as the second stage and a form of dementia as the last stage. One thing researchers have discovered that a person who has been identified as having SCI is over 4 times as likely to develop either MCI or dementia over the next 7 years.

The significance to all of us is that the ability to identify persons in the Subjective Cognitive Impairment stage allows us to focus on better prevention techniques, many of which are in their infancy as we learn more and more about the disease.  

Tune in and you'll be hearing the terms SCI and MCI often.......

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