Saturday, December 15, 2012

Adjusting to Bifocals: It Was All a Blur

Photo by Ms. Tina. 
By 2009, I had been wearing single lens glasses for forty years.  I never seriously imagined myself ever wearing bifocals.  But that was the year I turned 47.

This post discusses

* Warning Signs
* Denial
* Physical Challenges to Adjusting
* Timeline

I have since learned that when people reach their forties, they usually acquire presbyopia, age-related eye trouble that often requires the use of bifocals.

When the optometrist informed me, “You need bifocals.”   I wasn't emotionally ready to make the switch. 

The assault to my ego was mild compared to the assault to my senses. 

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Photo by Flood
As people get older, they experience age-related changes to their memory: i.e., they take longer to store and retrieve information, their attention is compromised when multitasking, and they take longer to retrieve the desired name, date, place or specialized word.

Sometimes older adults too readily fear that they are in an early stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Usually, these changes to memory are just normal signs of aging.

But what if the memory problems seem more serious?  Is it Alzheimer's disease?  Maybe, maybe not.

Yes, as people age, their risk for AD and other forms of dementia does increase. About 5% of those ages 65 to 74 have AD; the rate increases to about 50% for those 85 plus. Yes, symptoms of AD can often mask as normal changes to memory. Some disregard atypical memory changes, which postpones a diagnosis until people move beyond the early stage and into the mid-stage of the disease.

(For a fuller overview of various stages of memory performance,
see this list at

However, older adults with memory problems should first consider the possibility they have Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

EDITED TO ADD: A year after this post was published, the APA's 5th edition of DSM changed the name of this from MCI to mild neurocognitive disorder. Here is an article from 2015 that explains the science behind the name change. 

The document 2012 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures reports this prevalence: "Studies indicate that as many as 10 to 20 percent of people age 65 and older have MCI" (p. 9).  Furthermore, only a small percentage (15%) seek medical advice about MCI. Of those who do seek treatment, half will develop dementia in 3-4 years.

Clearly, older adults and their loved ones need a greater awareness of MCI as a distinct diagnosis.