The Second Most Common Cause of Dementia
Vascular dementia is a general term that describes problems with memory, judgement, reasoning, and planning. It is caused by impaired blood flow to the brain due to narrowed or damaged blood vessels that restrict circulation, depriving the brain of vital nutrients and oxygen. This type of dementia often develops after stroke and accounts for 20 to 30% of dementia cases.
- Memory loss
- Disorientation in time, space, and physical movement
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
- Trouble organizing thoughts or actions
- Problems with speech or understanding speech
- Difficulty with decision making and communication
- Restlessness, agitation, and uncontrolled laughing or crying
- Inability to control urine, or sudden or frequent urges to urinate
These symptoms can begin as mild changes that gradually worsen over time or can begin in conjunction with stroke. Therefore, many experts feel that the term “Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI)” better expresses the vascular changes that occur in the brain, and which can range from mild to severe. These changes can also intertwine with other types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia associated with Lewy bodies.
The emotional toll from dementia is taxing on patients as well as caregivers. It is not uncommon for either to feel a mixture of emotions ranging from confusion and frustration to anger, fear, and grief. Therefore, experts recommend counseling or some form of support. The Alzheimer’s Association can connect you with resources, home care agencies, support groups, and educational seminars in your area. The better educated one is, the easier it is to cope and succeed during the difficult times ahead.