Some difficulty remembering names and forgetting where you put the keys is so typical that it’s considered a normal part of aging. Just as joints become less flexible and hair thins, the brain processes information more slowly as we age.

Many people become concerned that this forgetfulness will ultimately develop into Alzheimer’s disease or other brain diseases, and that’s possible. But, there is a middle ground of cognitive impairment that falls between forgetfulness and dementia. It’s called “mild cognitive impairment.”

In many cases, mild cognitive impairment stays mild. But, studies have shown that people having the condition are about three times more likely to develop full-blown dementia than those without it. The challenge is that it’s nearly impossible for doctors to reliably predict who will develop dementia and who won’t.

Forgetfulness or memory impairment is a symptom of many conditions that affect aging adults and are unrelated to Alzheimer’s disease. One example is depression. Not only can depression affect memory, but so too can the medications a person takes to treat it.

How Serious is Mild Cognitive Impairment?

People with mild cognitive impairment can handle the tasks of daily living, although they may be done less efficiently than they used to. Many people having it can live independently. However, if impairment gets so severe that they can’t manage activities like preparing meals, shopping, or paying bills, it may now have developed into Alzheimer’s disease.

How probable is it that mild cognitive impairment will develop into dementia? Statistically, about 1 to 2% of the general population develops dementia every year, but among those with mild cognitive impairment, it’s 5 to 10%. It’s estimated that 7% of people with mild cognitive impairment convert