An ability to resist the temptation of a delicious-looking desert may be a more accurate indicator than memory loss when it comes to figuring out whether your loved one is at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, says a new study.

Researchers from Concordia University found that adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a proven precursor of Alzheimer's disease, experienced trouble with at least one aspect of their "executive functioning"—the mental processes that enable people to make meaningful connections between past experiences and present decisions.

Executive functioning is what helps you decide what to pack for your mother when she has to stay at the hospital overnight, or how to rein in an angry response to your sister's insensitive comments about your caregiving ability.

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When a person has MCI, their ability to regulate and organize information begins to falter and their command of their executive functions breaks down. This makes them less able to handle day-to-day activities such as running errands and keeping track of their finances. They may also become more prone to the inappropriate emotional outbursts that are a hallmark symptom of many seniors with full-blown Alzheimer's.

Study authors hope that by shedding some light on lesser-known symptoms of cognitive impairment, their findings will help family caregivers and doctors alike to pinpoint people at risk for Alzheimer's disease sooner. The memory-robbing illness has no cure and few treatments, but catching it earlier can help seniors and their family caregivers cope and prepare for the future.