What Is Vascular Dementia?
Vascular dementia is a decline in judgement and thinking skills caused when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. This deprives brain cells of oxygen and the nutrients it needs to function properly.
Considered the second most common cause of dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease, the two have similar symptoms, especially in the early stages, but have different causes. Alzheimer’s disease attacks the nerve cells in the brain eventually leading to cell death, vascular dementia occurs when the brain doesn’t get the nutrients it needs.
Vascular dementia can occur suddenly after a stroke, or in the case of several minor strokes or other conditions, smaller blood vessels can be affected over time so initial changes can be subtle. As damage to the small vessels in the brain continues or worsens, symptoms increase and become more noticeable. Other than stroke or brain hemorrhage, conditions that can lead to vascular dementia include high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, diabetes or lupus.
Signs Of Vascular Dementia
Early signs of small vessel damage can be difficult to diagnose and similar to Alzheimer’s including:
- Impaired judgment or thinking skills
- Having a hard time following instructions or completing tasks like managing money or balancing a checkbook
- Inability to pay attention
- Unexplained laughing or crying
- Impaired function in social situations; and difficulty finding the right words.
Talk To Your Doctor
If you think you, or a loved one, are showing signs of vascular dementia it is important to talk to your doctor right away. If vascular dementia is a possibility, some lifestyle changes can help prevent further damage.
Avoiding or controlling diabetes, managing high blood pressure or high cholesterol can reduce the risk of vascular dementia.
There are other health reasons someone might experience memory problems – and the reason isn’t always dementia. Thyroid problems, stress, vitamin deficiencies or certain medications can cause dementia-like symptoms but can be reversed when properly managed and your doctor to determine the underlying cause.
What If I Need Dementia Care?
If a medical professional determines you, or your loved one, is suffering from cognitive decline you need to research and think about care options. This may be as simple as asking family members to help around the house, hiring nurses or health-care aids who come to your home.
In some cases, care in a residential facility becomes necessary, especially in older adults when spouses who serve as the primary caregivers but can’t physically provide around the clock care their loved one needs. The possibility of injuring themselves, and the safety of their spouse, becomes a real concern.
Dementia can have a real and devastating impact on families, but it doesn’t mean someone living with cognitive decline can’t live well. The Memory Center communities in Virgina Beach and Midlothian, VA care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. But our communities and programs are different and specifically designed to meet the needs of an aging brain. We offer every incentive to celebrate life and find purpose each day. A typical day here includes music, art, sports, walks outside, and social activities including afternoon get-togethers and happy hour in our tavern.
If you are considering care for Alzheimer’s or dementia contact us for more information or schedule a tour.