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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease
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Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment

People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (a neurodegeneration brain condition) or related disease (e.g., frontotemporal dementia), especially if the main change is in short-term memory. This progression is likely to occur within five years of the diagnosis of MCI. However, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

Family and friends should consider how the changes caused by MCI are affecting the person’s life. Encourage this person to stay active and find strategies for coping. Keep in mind that the memory loss and other changes are caused by the MCI and cannot be controlled by the person. 


Persons living with MCI should consider enrolling in the Mesulam Center’s research programs. Many new studies are recruiting people living with MCI. Please contact our research team to learn more about our ongoing studies.


Symptoms of MCI are often frustrating causing some persons to withdraw from social activities. To help cope with the changes caused by MCI, finding support is very important. Visit our Get Care & Support section for a full listing of the resources available.

  • Stay active: Keep up with interests. Make modifications when possible to accommodate for short-term memory or other changes.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle:
    • Eat right. Your brain needs proper food and liquid to function normally.
    • Exercise. There is a lot of evidence that aerobic exercise slows cognitive decline.
    • Maintain sleep hygiene and address problems if they exist.
    • Talk with others about your concerns. Let close friends and family know what you are going through so that you may gain their support. Connect to one of the center’s support groups for patients living with memory loss. 
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