Cognitive Impairment


Cognition is the range of high-level brain functions that include learning and remembering new information, organizing, planning and problem-solving, focusing, maintaining and shifting attention, understanding and using language, accurately perceiving the environment, and performing calculations.

When superficial siderosis patients begin to exhibit a noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills, your physician may feel it is time to screen for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).  These changes in cognition will be most noticeable first to family members and friends. While these changes are problematic, MCI will not affect your ability to carry out everyday activities.


Cognitive function may be evaluated by administering either the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or the Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination (SLUMS). Both tests consist of 11 questions in two sections: the first part addresses orientation, attention, and memory, with the second addressing verbal and written skills.

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment offers a more comprehensive series of 30 questions designed to identify specific areas of difficulty. It will identify mild cognitive impairment and help your neurologist determine if you are experiencing mild early-stage dementia or at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Recognizing the Signs

  • Remembering the right words
  • Keeping your thoughts in the proper sequence
  • Forgeting job duties or daily routines at home
  • Having a hard time making decisions or showing poor judgment
  • Following a conversation
  • Initiating a new task and keeping their focus on the task
  • Poor job performance resulting informal or formal disciplinary action
  • Lowered school performance, including falling grades or social challenges

MCI Management

Managing mild cognitive impairment should include memory exercises and memory aids.

Brain Exercises

  • Play games that exercise your memory or thinking process: Puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, chess, checkers, video games
  • Lisiten to music
  • Knit or crochet
  • Learn a new word daily
  • Drawing or art

Memory Aids

  • Pick one place in your home to become an information center. Create a written wall calendar, container for mail, bills and phone messages. Hang your daily to-do lists, keys, wallet, or shopping lists.
  • Your wall calendar should be big enough to display everyones appointments, activities and social invitations. Keep pens or markers hanging right beside it. Or use a centrally stationed computer with a calendar program set with your reminders. Make sure the program will sync with your phone.
  • Speak your to-do list, notes or other things you really need to remember into your phone voice recorder.
  • Use the alarm on your watch or phone to remember medication times and appointments. Use your kitchen timer when cooking. If you are hearing impaired be sure these alarms have a flashing light feature.
  • Avoid distractions and noise when holding conversations. Turn off the television or music when speaking with someone in person or on the phone. Background visual and noise will make remembering hard if you’re distracted. If you can’t turn off the noise (for example, people talking at a party or background noise during an appointment) find out if you can move to a quieter place.
  • If you find yourself having a problem concentrating, take a breath and a small break to refresh.
  • Do one thing at a time. Avoid trying to complete two jobs at one time. Multi-tasking will only cause confusion and errors. Finish your task completely or find a good stopping point. Make a written or voice note on what you still need to do before you switch to something else.


Back to top button