The Signs of Dementia

By: Lewam on Oct 4, 2010

We all forget where we’ve placed the car keys, have come home from the grocery store with everything but the items we went to purchase or have mixed up appointment dates. You may laughingly shrug it off as a “senior moment,” but you also may worry in the back of your mind that these oversights may mean something more – dementia.

So how do you know when simply being busy and distracted turns from simple forgetfulness into the possibility of dementia and needing dementia care?

Medical researchers and doctors agree that there are marked differences between being a bit absentminded and having full-blown dementia. Normal forgetfulness is generally the byproduct of stress, being overly tired, illness or just trying to remember too many details at once.

In contrast to not recalling a phone number or the steps to a recipe, dementia is characterized by having memory loss that interferes with your ability to function – whether it’s socially or at work. A person with dementia will also exhibit personality changes, as well as recognizable changes in abstract thinking, judgment, language, performance of complex physical tasks, or recognition of objects or people.

Understanding Vascular Dementia

Next to Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia is one of the most common forms of dementia. Those with vascular dementia usually have had a stroke or series of strokes that create a chronic, reduced blood flow to the brain. Often, the strokes are so small that the symptoms go unnoticed. However, the damage builds over time, which leads to memory loss, confusion and other signs of dementia.

The most common type of vascular dementia is called multi-infarct dementia (MID). This is where you have a series of the previously mentioned unnoticed small strokes or “mini-strokes.” These are also called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), and temporarily block blood supply to the brain, as well as can temporarily affect consciousness or sight. As more areas of the brain become damaged by TIAs over time, the person may experience symptoms of vascular dementia.

Interpreting the Signs of Vascular Dementia

Of course, each person is different and will exhibit a range of dementia symptoms. Generally, a person who has prolonged episodes of mini-strokes will gradually lose their memory.

Understanding Vascular Dementia

So what causes vascular dementia and how can you avoid it? A stroke, small vessel disease, or a combination can cause vascular dementia. One of the most common causes of a stroke is arterial blockage leading to the brain. Like heart disease and the associated heart attacks, arterial blockages to the brain can be caused by plaque build up on in the arteries, or by loose blood clots that may clog a main artery.

One of the best ways to avoid strokes and the possibility of vascular dementia is to control high blood pressure and diabetes, monitor cholesterol levels and avoid cigarettes.

What You Can Do to Improve Your Memory

If you or a loved one has already been diagnosed with vascular dementia, it’s not too late to take action. Treating the risk factors that led to vascular dementia can slow the progression of the disease. Additionally, there are other things you can do to strengthen your memory, including reading, solving crossword puzzles, playing chess or taking classes in a subject you love.

Researching Dementia Care Options

There are a number of options for dementia care – including senior housing and assisted living communities, an Alzheimer’s care or memory care facility or senior in home care. For help researching your choice for dementia care, contact SeniorLiving.Net at 866-342-4297 today.



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