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. Are these the early signs of dementia? How do you know when simply being busy and distracted turns from simple forgetfulness into the possibility of dementia?

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. It doesn’t mean you need to start looking for dementia care.

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.

Types of Dementia
How many types of dementia are there? The most common one is Alzheimer’s disease. Experts believe it accounts for as much as 80% of all dementia diagnoses. There are many additional types of dementia ranging from dementia related to Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body dementia, Huntington’s disease, and other dementias believed to be linked to chronic alcohol abuse. The next most common form, however, is vascular dementia.

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 the 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 create brief impairments in consciousness or sight. As more areas of the brain become damaged by TIAs over time, the symptoms of vascular dementia will begin to appear.

Interpreting the Signs of Vascular Dementia
Of course, each person is different and will exhibit a range of dementia symptoms. Generally, a person experiencing a prolonged period of mini-strokes will have a gradual decline in memory, and then the rate of mental and physical decline stair-steps from there.

Causes of 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 the inside of the artery wall, or by loose blood clots which can 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.


Like Alzheimer’s care, the cost of dementia care depends on a few additional factors. Dementia care providers will want to know what type of dementia your loved one has to know what level of care they will need to provide.

For dementia care in an assisted living, fees are typically paid for from private funds. There are some exceptions. Long-term care insurance policies typically cover licensed assisted living, and in a few states, there are Medicaid funds are available to help with assisted living costs.

Payment for dementia care in a nursing home is either from private funds, long-term care insurance or Medicaid.


Assisted living is regulated at the state level. Because of that, every state has their own policies that define and regulate what care and services are required for an assisted living community to meet the state standards.

Skilled nursing and rehab centers are regulated at both the state and the federal level. They are licensed and regulated by the Department of Public Health for the state, and are certified by both Medicaid and Medicare. In addition, there are licensing standards for the administrators and the clinical staff.


Call 1-866-678-0173 to speak with a local care counselor.