Everything You Need to Know About Vascular Dementia
When a loved one is diagnosed with vascular dementia, it is important you understand more about the condition so you can better prepare for the future as well as advocate for their needs. The first step to getting more familiar with the condition is to first understand that not all types of dementia are the same. Instead, dementia is an umbrella term with multiple kinds of dementia falling under it, like vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
No matter if you are somewhat familiar with vascular dementia or if you are just beginning to learn, here are some facts you need to know as you sort through your options.
What Is Vascular Dementia?
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that the definition for dementia, in general, is a condition marked by a loss of memory, problem-solving, language and other cognitive abilities. This loss is progressive and interferes with daily life. There are different types of dementia, including vascular dementia.
So, what is vascular dementia? It is dementia that is caused by brain damage that happens when not enough blood reaches the brain. Most commonly, vascular dementia occurs in the aftermath of a stroke. However, a stroke does not always result in vascular dementia. Other conditions that affect circulation and blood vessel function can cause vascular dementia.
The risk for vascular dementia increases with conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. People who smoke are also more vulnerable to vascular dementia.
You can reduce the risk of vascular dementia by getting more physical exercise, quitting smoking, managing diabetes, and eating foods that contribute to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Vascular Dementia Symptoms
Vascular dementia symptoms can vary radically from person to person. It is just one of the reasons why diagnosing vascular dementia can be tricky, especially in the immediate aftermath of a stroke or circulation incident. Oftentimes, a stroke causes an emergency situation where other parts of the body are also damaged which can make a dementia diagnosis more difficult.
Vascular dementia symptoms are also not one-size-fits-all. Symptoms vary based on which part or parts of the brain were affected by poor blood flow. One person with vascular dementia will not always share the same symptoms as another person living with vascular dementia.
However, vascular dementia symptoms can include:
General confusion, including disorientation to person, time, or place. This can mean the person may not be able to recall their own name, what day or year it is, or where they are.
Short attention span, which can make conversations with family or friends quite difficult for both parties. Attention span deficits can also affect daily tasks ranging from making lunch to doing laundry to taking a shower.
Poor judgment, which might lead to dangerous behaviors or consequences. For example, choosing to wear a heavy coat on a warm spring walk or falling for a scam from a stranger who calls on the phone.
Forgetfulness, including both short-term and long-term memory loss.
Anxiety, restlessness, and increased agitation. This might present itself in constant pacing around the house, wringing hands, bouts of crying, or even uncharacteristic yelling.
Incontinence or other toileting challenges.
Unsteady gait or balance difficulties, which increases the risk of falling while at home or out and about.
Word-finding difficulties during conversations.
Depression, increased sadness, or apathy.
Symptoms can show up after a large stroke, or cardiovascular accident (CVA), or might increase due to a series of smaller strokes, sometimes called transient ischemic attacks (TIA). In any case, it is important to talk to your loved one’s physician about any changes in cognition, mood, or behavior you are noticing.
Vascular Dementia Treatment
When it comes to vascular dementia treatment, interventions vary from person to person. Your loved one may be prescribed medications to prevent more strokes in the future, or they may be prescribed medications used to reverse constricted blood vessels or other conditions that may cause circulation challenges.
Your loved one may also receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy services to assist with improving balance, word finding, communication, or fine motor skills. It is common to receive these interventions either in-patient or out-patient after a stroke event.
Specialized Vascular Dementia Treatment with Legend Senior Living
In some cases, people living with vascular dementia are not safe living at home alone or even with a spouse or family member. Senior living residences can provide a comfortable and engaging environment that enhances the quality of life and caters to your loved one’s personal preferences.
At Legend Senior Living, our residences provide just the right amount of assistance to enhance independence while providing therapies to assist those living with vascular dementia. Purposeful activities, events and excursions exercise the brain, body, and spirit. These include physical fitness activities, cognitive exercises, biofeedback therapy and horticulture therapy.
In addition, our assisted living and memory care residences are purposefully designed to reduce the risk of falling, promote independence and foster dignity thanks to plenty of natural light, low pile carpeting, wide hallways, and an array of colors.
Residents enjoy personalized assistance from trained caregivers who are also there to assist with daily personal care, including medication management, which is especially important for those who take prescription medication to reduce their risk of further strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, or cholesterol. Family members of residents enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved one is well cared for during a typical day or during an emergency situation.
When your loved one is diagnosed with vascular dementia, it can feel overwhelming. However, by learning more about the condition and your solutions, you can feel more empowered to face the future. Call the Legend Senior Living residence near you to learn more about our services and to schedule your personalized tour.