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Dementia Care | September 22, 2016 | By Jonita Dixon

What Is Vascular Dementia Exactly?

senior-woman-with-teaVascular dementia is one of the most common forms of dementia; in fact, it is the second most common form of dementia right after Alzheimer’s disease. It occurs when our brain does not receive enough of the nutrients and oxygen that it needs. The lack of blood to the brain causes brain damage, which affects judgment, planning, reasoning, memory, and other thought processes.

There is a significant difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, because dementia affects our white matter (which includes the connecting fibers) while Alzheimer’s disease primarily affects the gray matter (the main bodies of nerve cells). Both forms of dementia have confusion and memory loss, while vascular dementia may also include issues with movement (including walking).

Common Symptoms

It is important that you be aware of some of the common symptoms of vascular dementia in order to recognize the potential issues. A few of the most common symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Difficulty planning, making decisions and analyzing
  • Unusual mood changes
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Difficulty doing things that used to come easily
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Personality changes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Confusion which may worsen at night
  • Problems with memory

Causes And Risk Factors

What are a few of the different causes for vascular dementia? There are two different reasons that someone might end up with vascular dementia:

  • Multi-infarct dementia or single stroke – While having a stroke does not necessarily mean that someone is going to end up with dementia, it does place the brain at risk. If you have more than one stroke, it could place the brain at greater risk. It is possible that vascular dementia occurs after a series of strokes or one single major stroke. The most common form of vascular dementia is Multi-infarct dementia, dementia caused by multiple silent strokes. The patient is often unaware that they experienced a stroke, because there might not be any outward evidence that these strokes have occurred.
  • Chronically damaged or narrowed blood vessels – Vascular dementia may occur through conditions such as wear and tear associated with aging, hardening of the arteries, temporal arteritis, high blood pressure, brain hemorrhage, lupus erythematosus, and diabetes.

Reducing The Risk Of Vascular Dementia

There are a few different things that you are able to do to reduce the risk of vascular dementia. These are just a few of the points to take away:

  • Eat consciously, enjoy healthy options with less fat and less salt.
  • Make sure that you exercise in your daily routine
  • Keep alcohol to a minimum, if you do drink, do so in moderation
  • Check for abnormal heart rhythm
  • Check cholesterol frequently
  • Decrease stressors in your life where possible
  • Carefully control diabetes keeping glucose levels low
  • Know and manage blood pressure
  • If you currently smoke, stop doing so