What is Vascular Dementia?
There are so many potential healthcare concerns that today’s seniors need to be aware of. One of the many conditions for seniors to be on the lookout is vascular dementia. If you aren’t already familiar with vascular dementia—here are all of the basics about this condition that every older adult should know.
What is Vascular Dementia?
Vascular dementia, also known as multi-infarct dementia, is the second most common cause of dementia in older adults. While it is not as widely known as Alzheimer’s, many people may not be aware of the signs of vascular dementia when they are faced with the signs and symptoms. However, it does attribute to 15 to 20% of dementia cases in older adults.
Unfortunately, vascular dementia is difficult to diagnose because it is rather complex in nature.
How Does Vascular Dementia Compare to Alzheimer’s disease?
With Alzheimer’s disease, the brain’s nerve cells break down. Vascular dementia is different—it occurs when part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood, which carries the nutrients and oxygen the blood needs.
This can happen when the vessels that supply blood to the brain become narrowed or blocked. While some people suffering from a stroke will get vascular dementia—it doesn’t happen with every stroke patient.
More typically, vascular dementia can develop over time, after someone has several “silent” strokes.
What are the Symptoms of Vascular Dementia?
While vascular dementia can be relatively difficult to diagnose, there are some significant signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.
- Issues with short-term memory
- Laughing or crying at inappropriate times
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Unexplained wandering
- Issues concentrating
- Trouble planning or doing everyday activities
- Issues managing money and everyday tasks
- Inability to follow instructions
- Loss of bowel control
- Inability to control bladder
- Delusions or hallucinations
However, these symptoms can be similar to those presented in Alzheimer’s related dementia. One of the biggest differences in these two types of dementia is vascular dementia impairs coordination or balance. Typically, people with vascular dementia will have issues walking or balancing, especially early on. While this can be a symptom with Alzheimer’s dementia, that typically doesn’t occur until much later in the progression of this disease.
These symptoms often get worse during a stroke. Typically, when diagnosing this type of dementia, doctors look for symptoms that progress noticeably and quickly, while dementia associated with Alzheimer’s tend to progress at a slow and steady pace.
All seniors and their caregivers should be aware of these signs and symptoms of vascular dementia—so they can pay attention to the signals of this common type of dementia.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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