Definitions of the concept of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and suggested therapies are controversial. There are no widely acknowledged therapies and the ethical implications and methodologic issues around identifying and defining people with MCI are important concerns. The psychosocial implications for the person being labeled as having MCI have not been widely explored. This paper addresses these issues and presents data from two contrasting case studies. Key analytical themes identified in the qualitative analysis include different views about the causes of dementia ("normal aging" versus disease); fear and anxiety about dementia; how such factors influence presentation to health professionals; and the effect of a label of cognitive impairment on quality of life. Our conclusion is that the usefulness and justification for early identification of cognitive impairment in a situation that has not yet been recognized by those involved should be questioned.