Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

6. Tips for someone diagnosed with MCI

There is a lot you can do to help reduce your chances of MCI progressing to dementia. There are also many ways to deal with memory problems that will allow you to live well with MCI.

  • Take medication (eg for blood pressure) as prescribed by the doctor, even if you feel fine. It will help keep underlying health conditions in check.
  • If you do smoke, now is a good time to stop. If you drink, check you are well within the recommended limits. Ask the GP for advice on both of these.
  • Try not to become stressed or anxious as this can make memory or thinking problems worse.
  • Having a regular routine can help to minimise memory problems, though make sure to have some variety in your days or you may get bored. Similarly, try to always keep things in the same place as it will make them easier to find.
  • Use calendars and diaries, or reminders on electronic devices, to help you remember appointments and important events.
  • Get regular physical exercise - you could go for a brisk walk or a swim, or do some more energetic tasks in the garden or around the house. Try to do this for at least 30 minutes, five times a week.
  • Try to break tasks down into small steps if you are struggling, then focus on just one step at a time. For example, while cooking focus on one step of the recipe in turn.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, lots of starchy foods (eg potatoes and rice), regular fish and some meat, but not too much saturated fat or dairy products (eg butter and cheese).
  • Keep your brain active with puzzles, quizzes, reading or anything else you enjoy that stimulates your mind.
  • Make time to relax - you might enjoying listening to music or sitting in the garden. You could also find out about how to practise breathing exercises by taking out a book about relaxation and breathing at your local library or looking online for tips.
  • Try to sleep well - avoid stimulants like tea or coffee, or having alcohol, before bed.
  • Stay socially active - make an effort to keep going out to see friends and family. If you attend a place of worship, continue to go regularly.
  • Ask your doctor about memory support groups for people with MCI in your area.

If you need a bit more support coping with memory loss, there are lots of practical tips in Alzheimer's Society publication 1540, The memory handbook.