Impacting approximately 5.8 million Americans, Alzheimer’s is the most well-known form of dementia. Yet there’s another, lesser-known type of dementia causing cognitive impairment in seniors: vascular dementia. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors, along with the unique attributes that set it apart from Alzheimer’s, is crucial to obtaining a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Who’s at Risk for Vascular Dementia?

In contrast to Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia is caused by too little oxygen and blood flow to the brain, such as occurs during a stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). In reality, as many as 25 – 33% of strokes result in some amount 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 a person reaches 65
  • Gender: males are at greater risk than females
  • Elevated blood pressure and/or cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease or heart attack
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Hardened arteries
  • An abnormal heartbeat
  • Lifestyle decisions, like tobacco use and alcohol consumption

Vascular Dementia Symptoms

Symptoms can come on abruptly following a major stroke, or bit by bit following a mini-stroke or TIA. Generally speaking, these warning signs often can be found in conjunction with vascular dementia:

  • Short-term memory decline
  • Struggles with completing, planning, or concentrating on responsibilities and activities
  • Issues with managing money
  • Confusion when attempting to follow directions
  • Wandering and becoming 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 several key differences when comparing the two:

  • The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known. It usually progresses slowly and gradually, with balance and coordination problems occurring within the later stages of the disease.
  • Vascular dementia is triggered by a stroke or TIA, and is linked to other vascular problems (such as unhealthy blood pressure/cholesterol levels). The advancement of this form of dementia occurs in specific stages, with balance and coordination problems in the initial stage.

Vascular Dementia Care for Seniors

While there is no cure for vascular dementia, making changes in lifestyle that deal with the primary cause is essential. This might 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, Morning Glory Home Care, a provider of award-winning dementia care in Edwardsville, IL and nearby areas, is here to help seniors live their lives to their fullest potential, with independence, purpose, meaning, and safety. Reach out to us at 618-667-8400 to learn more and to request a no-cost in-home consultation to find out the many ways we are able to help you. To view a list of all the communities where we provide care, visit our Service Area page.