Tips for living with mild cognitive impairment

There are ways to help a person with mild cognitive impairment manage their symptoms and cope with memory loss. There are strategies that can be adopted to help with this.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
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Some people with MCI develop useful strategies to cope with their symptoms, which can help to make everyday tasks easier and less frustrating. For example: 

  • Try to do just one thing at a time and remove distractions. If you are trying to concentrate on something, turn off the television or close the window if there is noise coming from outside.
  • Getting into a routine of putting belongings in the same place so they are easy to find – for example, always putting keys on a hook, or keeping a wallet or purse in the same drawer. 
  • Declutter the home as much as possible. Label drawers and cupboard doors to show what is inside.
  • Use a calendar, diary or reminders on a phone or tablet to help remember appointments and important events. Keeping a notebook handy can be very useful.
  • Set an alarm for when a medicine needs to be taken and then tick it off on a daily or weekly checklist once done.
  • If there are lots of medicines to be taken at different times, make an appointment to have a medication review. GP surgeries often have a pharmacist who can help to make medicines easier to manage. 
  • Explore ways to reduce stress, anxiety and depression as this can improve thinking and memory. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to others you care about.
  • Try to get enough sleep, ideally at least seven hours each night. Get help from a health professional for any sleep disorders, such as insomnia or breathing problems.
  • Ask a GP or dementia adviser about memory support groups in the local area. These can help people develop strategies to cope with memory problems and stay independent for longer.

Driving and MCI

Most people with MCI are able to carry on driving. However, some may have specific symptoms, such as difficulty working out distances or making quick judgements, which affect their ability to drive safely.

In these instances, the DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority) should be notified in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the DVA (Driver and Vehicle Agency) should be notified.

It may still be possible for the person to continue to drive, but they might need to take a driving assessment to show that they can do so safely. If in any doubt, ask the local memory service for more guidance. 

Employment and MCI

Many people who have MCI are of working age and may worry about being able to keep doing their job.

For some types of jobs it may be possible to keep working as normal, but for others it may be necessary to make changes. These could include:

  • reducing the number of hours worked per week
  • having closer support or supervision from colleagues
  • finding an alternative role that is less mentally demanding.

Ideally a person’s employer will be willing to make adjustments to accommodate the needs of an employee with MCI. However, some may either not want to or be able to. When this happens, it’s important to know about employment rights. These include:

  • the right not to be treated unfairly because of a disability
  • the right for someone with a disability to have reasonable adjustments made to help them at work.

For a person’s employment to be protected by law because they have a disability, they need to show that their physical or mental condition: 

  • has a substantial negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities, and 
  • is likely to last for a long time (at least 12 months). 

There are no definite rules about MCI being a disability. Each person’s situation will be different.

Get employment advice

Free initial advice about employment issues is given by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) in England and Wales or the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) in Northern Ireland.

Get advice from ACAS Get advice from LRA
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