In sports, there’s this concept called “home field advantage.”
It’s this idea that when you are playing at home, in your own stadium, you have a better chance of winning than when you’re on the road.
That doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win. But it is worth something. It means even before the game begins, you already have the upper hand. You have an advantage.
Of course, I don’t do sports videos. I’m here every week talking about brain health. But the same concept applies. The question is, when you have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, who has the upper hand? Your MCI or you? That’s what I want to talk about today.
Hi, I’m Tony Dearing, of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
I’ve been talking about MCI for a quite while now, and no doubt about it, the way MCI is viewed — and treated — has changed dramatically over that time.
One of the biggest changes has to do with what you might think of as the balance of power between MCI and the people who have it.
In a relatively short period of time, that balance has shifted in your favor. And when I say shifted, I mean by a lot. There was a time, not that long ago, when it was assumed that among people with MCI, about 80 percent would progress to dementia within a few years. But based on the latest, best research, we know know that it’s more like 12 percent.
But one thing I’ve come to understand is, that doesn’t really do you a lot of good unless you know that, and you believe it, and you act on that belief.
So my question to you today is one of mindset. Sincerely, in your heart of hearts, who do you believe has the upper hand? Your MCI? Or you?
I will say this much. For a very long time, MCI was viewed as having the upper hand. And what it wants, more than anything else, is to maintain that sense of predominance that actually no longer enjoys.
For it to do that, it needs two things.
The first thing it needs is a doctor with a deafest attitude. I call this, Dr. There’s Nothing We Can Do.
That used to the standard line that doctors gave someone with MCI. “Not much we can do here. We just have to wait and see. Come back and see me in a year.”
Unfortunately, a lot of people today being diagnosed with MCI still hear that from their doctor. Even though nothing could be further from the truth. These days, there’s a lot that can be done for you. And there’s a lot you can do for yourself.
Which gets me to the second thing that MCI needs in order to maintain that upper hand.
It needs to be a Hognose snake.
You may not have heard of the Hognose snake, but you know what a cobra is. It’s deadly. If you get bitten by a cobra, it’s venom can paralyze you, and it can ultimately be fatal.
So this, this is not a cobra. It’s a Hognose, and type of snake found in Texas and other parts of the U.S. It’s known for puffing itself up in a way that makes it look like a cobra.
It’s not that a Hognose is harmless. It has tiny fangs and it has a little bit of venom, so it can be dangerous. But when it puffs up like a cobra, the intent is to scare the hell out of you, and paralyze you not with its venom, but with a sense a fear and helplessness against it.
Which is what MCI can do, if you let it.
It wants to be the snake in the grass.
The last thing it wants you to do is say, OK, this is very serious, but this is a medical condition that can be caused by any number of things, many of which are treatable, and if I find a doctor, not Dr. There’s Nothing We Can Do, but a doctor who really understands MCI, and knows to treat it properly, and if I get aggressive, and I really go after it, focusing on these things that have been shown to defend cognition — exercise, diet, stress reduction, sleep, braining training, social stimulation — then you’ve actually got a pretty good chance of slowing, halting, or even reversing this thing.
It happens, far more often than you think. I see people with MCI do this all the time, and that’s how they do it.
So you can give MCI the upper hand. Or you can puff yourself up. You can say, My cognition is worth defending and I’m going to defend it.
How do you do that? Well, that’s what I’m here talking about every week, showing you ways to slow, halt or reverse MCI, and I’ve got many more to share. I hope to see you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.