Dementia isn’t a specific disease. Instead, it’s a group of conditions characterized by a decline in cognitive skills, memory loss, and other thinking abilities. Dementia is most often associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it can be linked to other conditions too.
The good news is that the right treatment can help slow down the progression of dementia, but finding the right treatment starts with identifying which type of dementia you have. Our team of neurology specialists is experienced in diagnosing dementia and helping you manage its symptoms.
Below, we focus on one type of dementia: vascular dementia.
What is vascular dementia?
Adequate blood flow is necessary for every organ in your body to thrive, and your brain is no exception. Vascular dementia is a type of dementia caused by inadequate blood flow to your brain. Without enough blood, parts of your brain can’t receive the amounts of oxygen and nutrients it needs.
This can lead to symptoms, such as:
- Trouble with short-term memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to follow instructions
- Becoming lost or confused, even in familiar surroundings
- Laughing and/or crying at inappropriate times
- Difficulty following through on activities
Note that if your symptoms of confusion or dizziness appear suddenly, they may be related to a stroke. If you suspect you or a loved one are having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Causes and risk factors of vascular dementia
Most often, strokes and dementia go hand in hand. About 25% of people who have a stroke suffer from dementia. This type of dementia can be caused by a series of small strokes, but the reality is that anything that compromises blood flow to your brain can increase your risk of vascular dementia. Risk factors for vascular dementia include being at high risk for strokes, smoking, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, having heart disease, having diabetes, and being over the age of 60.
Managing vascular dementia
Although you can’t undo damage once it’s occurred, you can take steps to reduce your risk of future damage by managing underlying conditions (especially hypertension and diabetes), stopping smoking and drinking, and exercising.
If you live with someone who has vascular dementia, you may find it helpful to provide sticky notes with instructions or reminders. Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace with identification information may also help in the case of a person who wanders out alone.
In addition to lifestyle changes to manage underlying conditions, medications can also help with vascular dementia. Depending on your needs, you may benefit from medication to manage cholesterol or hypertension. If a stroke contributed to your vascular dementia, our team here at Link Neuroscience Institute can help you reduce the risks of future strokes (which make the symptoms of vascular dementia worse). Stroke treatments vary depending on what type of stroke you had, but they can include surgery and/or medications.
If you need stroke care or would like to discuss potential dementia signs you see, schedule your appointment at our Oxnard or Santa Barbara, California, office today. You can also use our online booking tool.