top of page

Evaluating Mild Cognitive Impairment

How to evaluate whether you or someone close to you is suffering from MCI

Are you concerned because you are noticing that you or someone close to you is having memory issues or problems with your or their thinking processes? Although this perception is subjective, this may be what kicks off an evaluation to see whether the person is really starting to suffer from Mild Cognitive Impairment, or whether these are just the symptoms of normal aging. It is also important to look for underlying causes that could be reversible. This evaluation is important as it helps set a baseline to help evaluations in the future to see whether the condition is worsening and moving into dementia and / or Alzheimer’s disease.

Your general practitioner will know you and your history and is a good place to start, but he or she will most likely need to refer you to a specialist such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a behavioural neurologist who have the specific training to evaluate MCI and recommend treatment in a thorough and holistic way. You may also want to refer to the Malta Dementia Society for support and guidance.

Physical examination

The first step before evaluating your cognitive health is to ensure that there are no underlying physical conditions that are leading to your memory problems. Your doctor will most likely request comprehensive blood tests to check for diabetes, anemia, kidney and liver disorders, thyroid function, deficiencies such as that for vitamin B12, levels of calcium that may be elevated or specific infections. This is where the support of Clinipath’s laboratory may come in handy to provide such comprehensive tests promptly and efficiently.

If your medical practitioner suspects a specific medical issue, he or she may recommend additional tests. Your doctor will also want to scrutinise the list of medications that you take, as these may be causing these symptoms of cognitive impairment.

Neurological testing

The next step is neurological testing which will look into the functioning of the nervous system to understand if there are any abnormalities in reflexes, muscle strength, your coordination and eye movement, and the eyes’ reaction to light. All these may give an indication of anomalies in specific areas of the brain. Such irregularities may signify anything from stroke or a tumour to a degenerative disorder such as Parkinson's disease.

Cognitive function evaluation

This evaluation will require a history of any cognitive changes over time. Someone close to the patient who knows your medical history and can describe the changes and is familiar with your symptoms and concerns should be present for this evaluation. Description of such symptoms together with a timeline is key, as cognitive decline that happens over a short period of time may signify a problem different to MCI or Alzheimer’s disease and may be caused by metabolic irregularity or even a tumour.

Neuropsychological testing

The next step may be that you would be referred to a psychologist who is specialised in brain disorders. This psychologist will administer a variety of tests that may include interviews, a paper-and-pencil or computer-based test, and these will help to assess memory, reasoning, attention, language, visual functions, motor functions, and social functions (such as empathy and knowing how to behave appropriately in social situations). Other tests that may be administered will be used to diagnose other issues such as anxiety or depression.

Structural brain scans

A CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may also be requested to examine the anatomic structure of the brain. These scans will be used to eliminate the possible presence of conditions such as a tumour, stroke, bleeding, infection and hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the area around the brain). These brain scans can also indicate the presence of blockages in the brain's small blood vessels and tissue damage that may be a symptom of vascular dementia. Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative dementias lead to loss of brain mass which can be illustrated with these scans.

If you or your loved one seem to be suffering from symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment, do not put off possible diagnosis as it is important to get the necessary care and attention, depending on what the actual prognosis is – speak to your medical practitioner to kick off the process to get the care you require.

If you think you or someone close to you may be suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment, your doctor will require a full review of your blood to identify possible underlying causes. At Clinipath, we can provide comprehensive blood work promptly and we recommend annual screening tests for effective diagnosis to ensure that you can maintain your quality of life.

If you would like information contact us today on +356 21221355, 9985 2404 or send an email on for more information.

26 views0 comments


bottom of page