aging issues.

What is Neurocognitive Disorder?

Neurocognitive disorder is the medical term for dementia

There’s mild cognitive impairment
There’s mild & major neurocognitive disorder
There’s delirium
There are different causes of cognitive impairment and neurocognitive disorders
*cognitive means “having to do with thought, judgment, or knowledge.” (, 2016)


Mild Cognitive Impairment“Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes” ~Mayo Clinic (2016)
According to the Mayo Clinic (2016), with mild cognitive impairment, one is usually aware that memory or mental function is declining. Family and close friends will notice a change, but generally these changes aren’t severe enough to significantly interfere with day-to-day life and usual activities.
Mild cognitive impairment may increase the risk of later progressing to dementia, caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions. Some people with mild cognitive impairment, depending on the cause, never get worse, and a few eventually get better. ~Mayo Clinic (2016)
Mild Neurocognitive DisorderThere is evidence of a modest cognitive decline, noticed by someone close to the person –more than with normal aging and less than in major neurocognitive disorder, in one or more area: language, perceptual-motor, complex attention, executive function, learning and memory, or social cognition (American Psychiatric Association (APA), 2013).
According to the DSM-5 (APA, 2013), in mild neurocognitive disorder one is usually still independent, but it takes greater effort to perform ADLs and IADLsADLs –activities of daily living; bathing, hygiene, dressing, eating/feeding, etc.
IADLs –instrumental activities of daily living; paying bills, managing medication, etc.
Major Neurocognitive DisorderThe primary feature of all neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) is an acquired cognitive decline in one or more cognitive domains (Grohol, 2016).
“The cognitive decline must not just be a sense of a loss of cognitive abilities, but observable by others,” says Grohol (2016).
The cognitive decline must be tested by a cognitive assessment, such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) or the CLOX.
According to Grohol (2016), “Neurocognitive disorders can affect memory, attention, learning, language, perception, and social cognition. They interfere significantly with a person’s everyday independence.”
Neurocognitive disorders have many different forms

Alzheimer’s disease –plaques (clumps of proteins) & tangles (twisted strands of protein)
Vascular –stroke
Lewy bodies –clumps of proteins
Parkinson’s disease –clumps of proteins
Frontotemporal –no specific cause is linked to this (early onset)
Creutzfeldt-Jakob –mad cow disease; protein malfunctions with domino effect throughout the brain
Traumatic brain injury
Substance (Drugs/alcohol)/medication use
Huntington’s Disease
Multiple medical conditions
~American Psychiatric Association (2013)
Neurocognitive disorders include:

Without behavioral disturbance
With behavioral disturbance
Psychotic symptoms
Mood disturbance
Agitation (state of anxiety; nervous excitement)
Apathy (lack of interest, enthusiasm, concern)
Other behaviors, such as personality changes
~American Psychiatric Association (2013)
Please see your doctor if you or a loved one is is experiencing any of these symptoms. There’s no cure for most neurocognitive disorders, but there are things that can help. Please look for my next post to help cope with behavioral disturbances in dementia disorders.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Grohol, J.M. (2016). Symptoms of major neurocognitive disorder. Retrieved   from:

Mayo Clinic Staff. 2016. Mild cognitive impairment. Mayo clinic. Retrieved from: 2016. Medical definition of cognitive. Retrieved from:

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