ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT COGNITIVE CHANGES?
Changes in cognition can unfortunately be a common non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an early stage of cognitive difficulty that does not interfere with independent living, yet the symptoms can still have an impact of your life – affecting your confidence and abilities to perform complex cognitive activities. People with PD and MCI may be aware that their thinking is not what it once was or notice they cannot multi-task like they once did. They may notice that math problems that they once were able to solve in their head, now require pen and paper, or that they forget names or words more easily.
During a recent episode of Dr. Gilbert Hosts we spoke with Dr. Jasdeep S. Hundal who is an expert in MCI. Dr. Hundal explained the basics of MCI and talked about restorative and compensatory cognitive rehabilitation, diet, and exercise as ways to manage and improve MCI, as well as clinical trials for MCI, and much more. We encourage you to read our MCI factsheet for more in-depth information on this topic.
There are no medications currently approved for MCI in PD, but as Dr. Hundal explained, exercise can improve brain functioning and overall cognition, pointing out that the duration (30-45 minutes or more), intensity (break a sweat), and frequency of exercise (three to four days per week) make a difference. There are also simple lifestyle modifications that can help minimize effects of MCI on your activities:
- Make sure that you are doing only one cognitive task at a time
- Do not attempt complicated tasks when you are tired or not performing at your best
- Keep to-do lists
- Keep written instructions for tasks that require multiple steps
- Keep household items in the same place every day
Cognitive rehabilitation, often performed by an occupational therapist, can introduce you to strategies that address your specific needs.
It is important to remember that some cognitive changes are just a part of normal aging that we all are likely to experience at some point, but if you are concerned about MCI in conjunction with PD, be sure to talk to your neurologist about your concerns.