Many people are unaware that there are multiple forms of dementia. The most common one is Alzheimer’s disease, which most people are familiar with. Many people haven’t heard of the number two form of dementia or, if they have, they don’t often know much about it. The second most common form of dementia is vascular dementia, which accounts for up to 20 percent of dementia cases. If you’re noticing symptoms of memory loss in an older family member, vascular dementia could be the case.
Vascular Dementia Symptoms
Vascular dementia is a kind of dementia that happens because of impaired blood flow in the brain causing damage to brain tissues. It can happen after a stroke, though a stroke doesn’t always lead to vascular dementia. The symptoms that occur depend on the severity of the damage to the brain and the area that was affected. Some symptoms that may occur are:
- Difficulty with organizing thoughts and actions.
- Problems with attention and concentration.
- Decreased ability to solve problems and plan steps to do so.
- Memory problems.
- Changes in gait, such as unsteadiness.
- Urgency when using the bathroom.
Sometimes vascular dementia is easily recognizable, such as when it occurs after a stroke. However, it sometimes develops slowly. It’s also possible for vascular dementia to occur at the same time as Alzheimer’s disease.
Vascular Dementia Risk Factors
Many of the risk factors for vascular dementia are also risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Vascular dementia risk factors include:
Age: People rarely get vascular dementia before turning 65. The older they get, the more common the disease is. By the time a senior reaches their 90’s, the risk is substantially increased.
Health History: People who have had a heart attack, stroke, or mini-stroke are at higher risk for vascular dementia. Atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries, is also a risk factor. Other conditions that increase the risk are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Smoking: Smoking causes damage to blood vessels, which makes it more likely an older adult will develop diseases of the circulatory system, such as atherosclerosis.
Obesity: Being overweight raises the risk for other kinds of problems with blood vessels, so experts believe it also raises the risk for vascular dementia.
If your older family member has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, senior care can assist them to live safely and happily at home. First, a senior care provider can offer supervision to prevent accidents and injuries caused by memory problems and poor judgement. In addition, a senior care provider can assist them with daily tasks that get harder as dementia progresses, such as getting dressed, eating, and keeping the house clean.