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Wed, Feb 6 8:31am · Dr. Chandler Presents at the MCI Symposium in Miami in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

MCI Symposium

On January 19th, Dr. Chandler presented to a group of neurologists, pathologists, neuropsychologists, and others from all over the country in a conference geared towards advancing the science in MCI.  She spoke as part of an afternoon session on rehabilitation strategies in MCI. She provided a broad overview of the Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking Program at Mayo Clinic. Our program includes multiple components including a compensatory cognitive rehabilitation component centered around teaching our patients how to write things down in a structured, organized, and detailed way into a memory notebook that is portable. For more information from a patient’s perspective on this rehabilitation approach, I would encourage you to take a look at a prior post from one of our HABIT alumni in which she describes how she uses her HABIT calendar on a daily basis.

Other presenters at the Symposium discussed how using mnemonics may help in early MCI.  For example, if you have trouble learning new names, try to associate something with that person’s name.  Perhaps they remind you of someone else you knew named Bob; try to picture them together.  Or, imagine Rosemary smelling like the herb.  Things like that.  Those sorts of mental tricks can be quite helpful, and even make some changes in parts of the brain related to concentration and focus!

If you want to learn more about these other researchers working in MCI rehabilitation, do an internet search for the works of Benjamin Hampstead, PhD; Krish Sathian, MD; Sylvie Belleville, PhD, and Michael Marsiske, PhD (from left to right; all pictured with Dr. Chandler, second from left, above).

Thanks for helping spread the word about HABIT and treating MCI, Dr. Chandler!


Tue, Jan 8 8:00am · Mediterranean Diet Recipes for the New Year in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)


As you attempt to get your hand and brain into the habit of writing “2019”, many of you may also be marking the New Year by committing or re-committing to eating more healthfully. As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Mediterranean Diet is a style of eating that has shown benefits to the health of the brain. It’s been a while since we provided you with new recipes, and if you’re like me, a new, yummy recipe can be just the thing for the winter blah’s that have you stuck in a rut!

The following recipes come from the Mayo Clinic Dan Abrahams Healthy Living Center.

This simple recipe for Baked Chicken with Orange and Oregano is an easy, elegant protein dish fit for guests.


  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 3 Oranges, Juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  • 2 oz red wine, Pinot Noir or similar
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Another main dish option that helps you get one of your weekly servings of brain-healthy fish in is Grilled Miso Salmon.


  • ½ cup Japanese style sweetened sake
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow miso
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. tahini
  • 1 tsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger
  • 4 salmon fillets, 5 oz. each
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Pair either of these dishes with your favorite oven roasted veggies and a whole grain-based side dish, and you’ll have a feast that your stomach and brain will enjoy!

Give these recipes a try and post below to let us know how you liked them!

Oct 25, 2018 · Dementia-Friendly Communities in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

You're correct in that these are different approaches to the central issue of how we can improve quality of life while also keeping folks safe when dementia enters the picture. Exciting stuff!

Oct 23, 2018 · Dementia-Friendly Communities in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)


In recent years, the Dementia Friendly America organization has taken off, in which many US states have started initiatives to promote “dementia friendly” communities. The idea is that, rather than institutionalize people with dementia, a better quality of life might be possible if people are able to remain a part of the community, as independent as possible. To keep people in the community, it takes the collaborative effort of all aspects of the town or city, from the health care systems to banks, restaurants, and law enforcement. For example, one part of the initiative is to encourage dementia friendly businesses in the community, where employees are trained to recognize when a person has dementia, communicate with that person, and know how to find resources for the person with dementia if needed. You can find a list of state-by-state resources here http://www.dfamerica.org/dfa-communities/

While the Dementia Friendly America programs are a good start, a few European cities have been able to undertake a much bolder, all-encompassing approach. Instead of trying to find ways to accommodate persons with dementia into an existing community, an entire village is created – designed from the ground up with memory problems in mind.

Let’s take a closer look at an experimental village in southwest France. Set to open in 2019, this 12-acre facility is a scaled-down town, complete with things like a restaurant and grocery store as well as a garden and farm where residents can stay active with interesting, productive tasks. The facility will be secure as a whole, but will allow the kind of freedom of movement between home and the community that people are used to having. The village will incorporate research measures into the daily life to gauge the effectiveness of this living situation compared to a traditional nursing home. Check out these stories for more details:

Personally, I get really excited reading about these rather radical approaches to making not only a safe place to live, which is the main goal of a skilled nursing facility (aka nursing home), but also a rich, vibrant, fulfilling place to live, which is often lacking at these facilities. I will be anxious to see the results of this and other similar experimental memory villages. If successful, hopefully we will see these in the United States in the not so distant future, as well!

Chime in below, and let us know what you think of this concept.


Meet others talking about Mild Cognitive Impairment (Mild Neurocognitive Disorder) on Mayo Clinic Connect – an online community where you can share experiences, ask questions, and find support from people like you.

Sep 11, 2018 · HABIT Returns to Rochester, MN! in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

RST Team Photo 2018

After a hiatus of over 1 year, we are thrilled to announce that the HABIT Healthy Action to Benefit Independence & Thinking Program ® has returned to regularly scheduled sessions in Rochester, Minnesota. The team is a mix of staff who primarily work in the La Crosse, Wisconsin Mayo Clinic Health System location, and others who work in Rochester.

If you’re unfamiliar with the HABIT program for people with Mild Cognitive Impairment and their care partners, check out this page to learn all about it!

Our session included 8 wonderful couples/partnerships from around the country. The location was the scenic Assisi Heights conference center, and many patients and partners enjoyed being able to get outside for a stretch break and some fresh air. As is usually the case, patients and partners found a sense of community with one another, and left feeling motivated to continue working on their new HABITS!

Our next session will be in October, 2018, followed by 4 sessions in 2019. The goal is to make this “Rochester” HABIT a Midwest HABIT program, with offerings in La Crosse as well.

Thanks to the patients, partners, and staff who helped make this special session a success!

Photo of staff from left to right: Carolyn Isaak, M.S. (Yoga & Meditation Teacher), Jennifer Loepfe, B.A. (Cognitive Trainer), Angelina Polsinelli, Ph.D. (Neuropsychology Fellow), Anni Shandera-Ochsner, Ph.D., L.P. (HABIT MN Director), Joanne Nordeen, M.S. (Cognitive Trainer), Miranda Morris, M.S. (HABIT Enterprise-wide Coordinator), Alissa Butts, Ph.D., L.P. (Neuropsychologist).


Aug 2, 2018 · Planning for the Future: Advance Directives in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

@bonniep, this is such a tough decision, and one I'm sure many others with a spouse diagnosed with MCI face. Often it does make sense to list someone other than your spouse as the surrogate decision-maker, given the uncertainty about what your spouse's cognitive capacity may be in the future. This can be a good topic to discuss as part of the larger "planning for the future" discussions you and your spouse have.

Jul 24, 2018 · Planning for the Future: Advance Directives in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Hi Nancy, you certainly can start with an attorney. They should be knowledgeable about the requirements for such a document in your area. The other options listed above are alternatives that would not come with a legal fee. Nice to hear you are being proactive in getting this taken care of!