The symptoms of MCI are usually temporary and improve with time. There are a number of things you can do to help yourself. Your doctors or specialist nurse can give you more information and support.
Keep a diary
Keeping a record of your symptoms may help you identify when you’re more distracted, or whether certain things make your memory worse. For example, you may notice that symptoms seem worse first thing in the morning, or when you’re tired or hungry. Noticing triggers or patterns like this can help you to plan your day so that you do more difficult tasks when you feel at your best.
Learn new coping strategies
You may find it helps to do some things a bit differently, to help you to concentrate and remember more. For example:
- carry a notebook and make notes during conversations, after meeting new people or after making arrangements
- use Post-it® notes with reminders on them and put them where you can easily see them
- keep a calendar or diary - or use your mobile or smartphone calendar if you have one - to help you remember important dates and appointments
- when making arrangements, check with people at the time to make sure you have the right information
- make lists, such as a shopping list or a ‘to-do’ list, so that you feel confident that you won’t forget anything.
Memory and repetitive exercises may help to train your brain and improve your memory and concentration. You can help keep your mind active by doing crosswords, word games or number puzzles like Sudoku.
It can also help to do some physical exercise as this can help you feel more alert and reduce fatigue.
Try to reduce stress
Stressful situations can affect everyone’s memory. Relaxation can help to reduce stress and may help to improve your memory and concentration.
Try doing some activities that will help you relax, such as listening to music or going for a walk. You could try using relaxation CDs or DVDs, or do some relaxation exercises.
Talk to your family and friends
Many people find that talking to family and friends about what they are going through can help. Mild cognitive impairment is often less obvious than other side effects of treatment, so you may need to explain how you’re feeling and how it’s affecting you.
Your family and friends may not be aware of MCI as a side effect of treatment. If they’ve noticed any symptoms, they may be relieved to know that they are fairly common and should improve with time.
Your family and friends will be able to support you better when they understand more about how you feel, and may be able to suggest ways they can help.
Other things that might help
Some other tips that might help are:
- keep things simple - don’t take on too much and try not to multi-task
- develop a manageable daily routine and try to keep to it
- avoid distractions - for example, if you need to concentrate on something, sit in a quiet area and turn off the TV/radio
- eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, especially lots of fresh fruit and vegetables - your doctor or nurse can give you advice or refer you to a dietitian, if needed
- take regular breaks, and get plenty of rest and sleep
- seek support from others in a similar situation - perhaps join an online forum or a local support group.
Talk to your doctor or nurse
Tell your doctor or nurse if you think you may have some of the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. They should be able to help relieve any side effects of treatment (such as anaemia), that could be contributing to your MCI. They can also refer you to other people for specialist help, such as a dietitian, a counsellor for relaxation support, or a support group.
Before you see your doctor, it’s a good idea to write down how MCI is affecting you and to make a list of questions to ask. If your memory is bad, it may help to take someone with you or to record the conversation so that you don’t forget anything.