As the most common form of dementia in seniors, Alzheimer’s impacts more than 5.8 million Americans. However, there is another, lesser-known form of dementia causing cognitive problems for seniors: vascular dementia. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors, together with the unique attributes that make it different from Alzheimer’s, is essential to obtaining a correct diagnosis and treatment.

Who’s at Risk for Vascular Dementia?

Dissimilar to Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia is brought on by too little oxygen and the flow of blood to the brain, such as occurs during a stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). In fact, as much as 25 – 33% of strokes result in some degree of dementia. So, individuals at a greater risk for stroke are also at an increased risk for vascular dementia.

Other risk factors include:

  • Age: risk increases after age 65
  • Gender: males are more at risk than women
  • Hypertension and/or cholesterol
  • Having diabetes
  • Cardiovascular illnesses or heart attack
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Hardened arteries
  • An abnormal heart rhythm
  • Lifestyle choices, like tobacco use and alcohol consumption

Vascular Dementia Symptoms

Symptoms may come on abruptly following a significant stroke, or more slowly as a result of a mini-stroke or TIA. In general, these warning signs often come in conjunction with vascular dementia:

  • Short-term memory decline
  • Difficulty with planning, concentrating on, or completing tasks and activities
  • Issues with money management
  • Confusion when trying to follow directions
  • Wandering and getting disoriented in places that were previously familiar
  • Incontinence
  • Inappropriate laughter or crying
  • Hallucinations or delusions

Is It Vascular Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease?

There are numerous key differences between the two:

  • What causes Alzheimer’s disease is not yet known. It usually progresses slowly and continuously, with bala;nce and coordination trouble occurring within the later stages of the disease.
  • Vascular dementia is caused by a stroke or TIA, and it is linked to other vascular problems (such as unhealthy blood pressure/cholesterol levels). The advancement of this variety of dementia happens in distinct stages, with balance and coordination problems within the initial stage.

Treatment Options

While there is no cure for vascular dementia, making lifestyle changes that deal with the primary cause a must. This could include modifying eating habits and increasing exercise, stopping smoking and refraining from drinking alcohol, and keeping diabetes under control.

Whether dementia, another chronic medical condition, or simply the typical effects of aging, Anthem Home Care, a respected provider of award-winning home care in Port Aransas, TX and nearby areas, is here to help seniors live their lives to the fullest — with meaning, independence, purpose, and safety. Call us at 361-643-2323 for more information and to request a free in-home consultation to find out the many ways we are able to help. Visit our Service Area page for a list of all the communities where we provide care.