Mild Cognitive Impairment Symptom: Difficulty Making Plans

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Note: Whether a glitch is normal or indicates a problem depends on many factors best evaluated by a professional, such as a geriatric psychiatrist or neuropsychologist. It's important to realize that changes in cognition and memory tend to fall along a spectrum. This symptom is considered a sign of concern that warrants an evaluation if it happens consistently or begins to interfere with daily life, especially if this is a change (new or different).

Why it happens

Planning involves several kinds of higher-order thinking, from weighing possible options and sequencing prospective events to thinking abstractly. These cognitive functions can be affected early.

What you can do

  • Have patience and allow extra time.

  • Encourage collaborative thinking where possible, so that you can guide the planning process along and point out the necessary considerations and steps that must be taken to implement a plan.

  • Don't expect the person you're concerned about to continue former responsibilities without help (such as financial planning, vacation planning) if you expect the same level of results; gently step in to do it together or divide tasks.

  • Be mindful of work life being affected by this tendency. Do consult a physician if work or daily life becomes negatively affected.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio