A Typical Week With Mild Cognitive Impairment

Gerontologist. 2021 Sep 13;61(7):1095-1106. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnab008.


Background and objectives: Identifying the experience of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may help develop research agendas, interventions, and other supports to better match individuals' needs. The purpose of this study was to explore the subjective experience of a "typical week" living with MCI to document (a) important activities, (b) barriers to usual activities, and (c) facilitators and supports.

Research design and methods: We conducted remote individual photo-elicitation interviews with 11 community-dwelling adults aged 55 years or older with MCI. Participants each provided 5-10 photographs of daily life taken over 1 week to facilitate a semistructured qualitative interview. Interview transcriptions were coded in Dedoose software and analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Participants shared photos and narratives highlighting the important activities in a typical week, in which physical activity, social engagement, spiritual and religious practice, hobbies, and cognitive stimulation were central. Many also shared disruptions to former routines and reduction of activities alongside increased use of new strategies and environmental supports (e.g., calendars, smartphones). Finally, emergent themes centered on disclosure of their diagnosis and reflections about the future.

Discussion and implications: Participant-generated images aided data collection and facilitated discussion of sensitive topics with individuals with MCI. Such narratives may illustrate the needs and opportunities to promote well-being in individuals with MCI, including engagement in meaningful and health-promoting activities, assessing barriers to important daily activities, and considering supports that match the experience and needs of those with MCI.

Keywords: Photo-elicitation; Sense of self; Successful aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Independent Living