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Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment: local woman shares fight with a little-known brain disease

Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment
Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 15, 2023
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is the stage between expected decline in memory and dementia.
  • Join the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday, Sept. 16th at the Johnsonville Tailgate Village at Lambeau Field.

This Saturday, September 16th at the Johnsonville Tailgate Village in Titletown will host the Walk to End Alzheimer's.

The Walk is held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide and is the world's largest fundraiser for Alzheimer's care, support, and research. But there is a lesser-known brain disease, called Mild Cognitive Impairment. It's the stage between the expected decline in memory that happens when we age and dementia.

"I'm kind of stubborn, very stubborn. So I'll try to prove somebody wrong or prove that I can do it."

Sue Mielcarek was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment two years ago.

"I would forget, like during our conversation," she says. "I wasn't myself."

At 64-years-old, Sue wasn't ready for her diagnosis.

"I cried a lot. And then I went out to my vehicle and cried more," says Sue.

Heather Flick, Dementia Care Specialist for Brown County, says Mild Cognitive Impairment can be difficult to detect.

"It's mild. The symptoms aren't severe enough to really interfere with some of those day-to-day tasks but it's a change from how someone usually is," says Flick.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

  • 12-18 % of those 60 and older in the United States are living with MCI
  • Of those 10-15% will go on to develop a type of dementia.

Health experts say MCI may increase the risk of dementia caused by Alzheimer's Disease or other brain disorders but some people with MCI might never get worse and some eventually get better.

"So MCI is sometimes something that's really reversible and definitely treatable. That's something folks might not be aware of," adds Flick.

Sue may not have been ready to hear her diagnosis but she was ready to fight it.

She keeps active with family and friends, takes medication, and takes advantage of the resources available through the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Brown County.

"It's like night and day. So I wouldn't if you saw me two years ago, I could never do this. So I'd be stuttering and be like I don't know what to say.

Doctors say MCI can be caused by a variety of factors, such as medication side effects, sleep deprivation or anxiety. That's why detection is key to possibly stopping MCI in its tracks even reversing the symptoms.

According to ALZ.org Some of the symptoms include:

Forgetting things more often

Missing appointments or social events

Losing your train of thought

trouble following a conversation.

The ADRC of Brown Countyoffers a free brain check-up, a wellness tool that helps identify changes in memory and cognition.

If you or a loved one is concerned about MCI, ask your doctor. 

You can join the fight against Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia by signing up for the Walk to End Alzheimer's. Find one near you by clicking here