Deciding when it’s the right time for a senior living community can be difficult. Of course, we want to ensure our loved ones are safe, happy, and receiving the best care possible. And if your loved one is living with vascular dementia, it can add another layer of complexity to the decision-making process.
Vascular dementia is a common form of dementia where the blood flow in the brain is disrupted. Unfortunately, once the damage is done, vascular dementia can’t be reversed. But support programs like memory care can help your loved one manage their condition and live with the comfort of daily routine. It all starts with understanding what’s going on in the mind.
What is Vascular Dementia?
Dementia is a general term for a range of diseases linked to memory loss and a decline in thinking skills. The causes of these conditions are different, and as you might’ve guessed by the name, blood vessels are at the root of vascular dementia. Specifically, microscopic bleeding or blockages in the brain cause it.
When your brain doesn’t get enough blood, it can damage and eventually kill the cells responsible for learning, memory, and language. Eventually, you may notice common vascular dementia symptoms, such as:
- Memory problems
- Balance issues
- Difficulty understanding speech or talking for yourself
- Trouble with focus
- Slowed thinking
Vascular dementia can often go unrecognized and typically needs a brain screening to look for signs of a recent stroke. As the condition progresses, individuals may have difficulty with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and eating.
Still, vascular dementia is one of the most common forms of dementia, second only to Alzheimer’s. About 40% of dementia cases are due to vascular dementia, though only 5%—10% of people with dementia have solely vascular dementia. In most cases, it’s part of mixed dementia, which can present with a range of symptoms that can be challenging to diagnose.
Vascular Dementia Risk Factors
As with Alzheimer’s disease, aging is a significant risk factor for vascular dementia. However, anything that can damage blood vessels could increase the risk of developing this condition; in some cases, a stroke can cause someone to develop it.
Risk factors for vascular dementia include:
- High blood pressure
- A history of strokes or heart conditions
Treatment for Vascular Dementia
As the damage done by vascular dementia cannot be reversed, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing further damage. This damage is why detecting brain damage early is crucial, so treatment to slow vascular dementia can begin.
Medications that treat high blood pressure and cholesterol could reduce the chances of another stroke that could further damage the brain. In general, treating the risk factors associated with vascular dementia may improve outcomes by preventing further decline. This treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as:
- Stopping smoking
- Eating a balanced diet
- Managing your blood sugar
- Cutting back on alcohol
- Getting exercise to control weight
There aren’t any drugs approved specifically for the symptoms of vascular dementia. However, research is ongoing, and some clinical trials have shown evidence that the same drugs approved for Alzheimer’s patients to promote cognitive function may also benefit people with vascular dementia.
Since vascular dementia is tightly linked to strokes, similar treatments may be useful. For example, if a stroke caused someone’s dementia, treatments such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy could help to regain some or all lost functions.
Supporting Someone Living With Dementia
Caring for someone with vascular dementia can be challenging, but some strategies may make the journey easier. You’ve already taken the first step by beginning to understand the unique needs and challenges of those with this condition.
Fostering a supportive environment is essential for care. Reduce potential sources of stress that could agitate your loved one, such as sudden loud noises or dim lighting that could disorient them. Music is an excellent way to relax someone if they’re getting agitated.
Remember, effective care begins with yourself. If you’re getting stressed or upset, it can affect the person you’re caring for. Burnout can happen, and it’s not a reflection of how much you love your friend or family member.
Memory Care in Middletown
Managing vascular dementia can be challenging for you and your loved one. But you don’t have to do it alone. Meadowcrest at Middletown offers memory support, a lifestyle option where dedicated staff can support your loved one with activities and experiences designed for them.We believe in senior living that invigorates physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So if you’re looking for a living community for your loved one with dementia, book a tour and see what Compass Memory Care has to offer.