Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

HABIT Healthy Action to Benefit Independence & Thinking

Welcome to the HABIT page for people living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and program participants.  The HABIT Program is for individuals with MCI and their loved ones to learn the best strategies for adapting, coping, and living their best lives with MCI.

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Jan 15, 2019

Tips and Tricks for Bookworms with MCI

By Miranda Morris, HABIT Program Coordinator, @mirandamorris

Man Reading

Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) can impact many aspects of daily life, and while it can certainly be frustrating, some activities can lend themselves to compensatory techniques. One of these activities is reading for enjoyment. The memory impairments that can accompany MCI may make it difficult to retain the information you have read or challenging to keep track of plots and characters. This week, I put together a short list of some tips to help my bookworms out there who may be experiencing cognitive changes that impact their love of reading. I invite you to try some of these techniques and find what may work best for you. Feel free to comment if you have tried something that was particularly helpful!

  • Take notes while reading about events in the story that you want to keep straight. This can be particularly helpful when reading historical accounts in which many things may be happening in the same time period. You might also try making a brief summary of what you have read each time that you take a break so that you can refer to it when you return to the book later.
  • Set a timer to remind yourself to take frequent breaks to rest and contemplate what you have read so far. This would be a good opportunity to take notes as I mentioned above.
  • Consider discussing what you are reading with your partner or a friend. Sometimes the act of thoughtfully discussing the topic can help you retain the information better. Additionally, the act of thinking critically about what you have read can be a good cognitive activity.
  • Try making a cheat sheet of characters as they are introduced. You can add information as you go along and refer to it as you are reading if you forget some details.

If you find that reading long novels becomes too difficult even after trying several techniques, consider switching to reading things like short stories, magazine articles, novellas, pamphlets like CliffsNotes that provide a summary and analysis of a book.

Speaking as one who was raised to be a bookworm, this is a great article! If I could add one other suggestion, try reading out loud for one page, then read silently for another page. The process of reading out loud involves one more sense, the sense of hearing, as well as being good for the voice (which also tends to get weaker as we get older). While I've not been diagnosed with MCI I do have vocal cord problems and reading out loud was recommended by my speech therapist. Also, most libraries have large print books available which are good as vision begins to diminish.

One more suggestion, I have a relative, age 93, who also likes to read but gets confused when reading some adult books. I've found that the local librarians can make good suggestions of kids books (upper elementary or teen level) that are easier to follow and understand, but yet interesting and involve learning new things.

Liked by leslon, Lisa Lucier

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