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Vascular Dementia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Senior Woman With Walker Outside with Caregiver

If you’ve been doing your research on dementia, you have probably discovered that there is no one clear cause for the condition. Instead, dementia is a condition characterized by a group of symptoms and that could have one or more causes. One of these most prevalent types of dementia is vascular dementia, which is actually second only to Alzheimer’s in prevalence.

Vascular dementia does have a somewhat clear pathology, in that patients suffering from vascular dementia all experience some type of lowered blood supply to the brain. With that in mind, the precise way in which decreased blood supply results in dementia symptoms is still not fully known.

Symptoms of Vascular Dementia

As with other dementias, the symptoms of vascular dementia depend heavily on which areas of the brain are affected. Additionally, as with other types of dementia, symptoms tend to be very mild during the initial stages and only later become more apparent.

Common symptoms of vascular dementia are the classic and well-known dementia symptoms:

  • Loss of short-term memory, exhibited in things like forgetfulness and inability to focus
  • More serious memory issues and confusion with familiar people and/or settings
  • Trouble with planning and critical thinking
  • Emotional instability, including laughing or crying at inappropriate times
  • Delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia

If your loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms, you may want to get him or her examined by a professional who is knowledgeable about dementia symptoms. Also, because symptoms can vary widely, if your loved one just seems “off” in any way, don’t rule out dementia as the cause.

Causes of Vascular Dementia

Age is one of the biggest underlying factors for vascular dementia, as it is for other types of dementia. Vascular dementia most often develops over the age of 60. The condition appears to affect men more than women, and African Americans more than other races.

As mentioned above, limited blood flow to the brain is one of the telltale signs of vascular dementia. High blood pressure is a big indicator — vascular dementia almost never occurs in individuals who do not already have high blood pressure.

Treatment of Vascular Dementia

While the symptoms of vascular dementia can be quite serious, the good news is that
vascular dementia offers some avenues for treatment that may not be available to those suffering from other types of dementia.

The first step is to deal with the underlying vascular issues. In cases where the restricted blood flow can be linked to arterial blockages, stents may be put in to improve blood flow to the brain. Likewise, high blood pressure can be managed through medication.

While the dementia symptoms can likely not be reversed by these treatments, it’s possible that tackling the underlying vascular causes can slow or even stop the progression of dementia, giving your loved one more years of improved quality of life.

Remember, if you’ve noticed any signs of dementia in your parent or loved one,, it’s best to get them evaluated by a qualified physician. As a starting point, our quick Home Care Quiz can help score your loved one on 6 key metrics of well-being and shed more light on your options going forward.

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