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Published on: Advice

Understanding Vascular Dementia

Whether a loved one has recently received a diagnosis, you think something might be wrong, or you just want to know more- it can be useful to find out about this common condition. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia (after Alzheimer’s disease) and currently affects an estimated 150,000 people here in the UK. Every year, around 20,000 additional people receive a diagnosis.

Vascular dementia usually gets worse over time, but it is sometimes possible to slow down its development through lifestyle changes and certain medications. Such possibilities can be discussed with your healthcare provider.

What causes vascular dementia?

Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which can happen because of:

  • A narrowing and blockage of small blood vessels in the brain
  • A stroke (where blood supply to one area of the brain is suddenly cut off)
  • Lots of ‘mini strokes’ (also known as transient ischaemic attacks; TIAs), which cause minute but widespread brain damage

Reduced blood flow explained

The brain requires a constant flow of blood to function healthily and normally. Blood is carried to the brain via the vascular system- a network of vessels. If this system is restricted or damaged in any way, it will ultimately cause brain cells to die (because they are receiving no blood, the provider of nutrients and oxygen).

In many cases, reduced blood flow to the brain can be linked to underlying health conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure. It may also be linked with lifestyle factors- smoking and being overweight.

When this happens (irrespective of possible cause), an array of cognitive and emotional problems can arise. When these problems become notable enough to have an impact on a person’s daily life, the condition is recognised as vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia symptoms

Symptoms can begin suddenly or develop slowly over some time and vary between individuals. The main symptoms (NHS listed) include:

  • Slowness of thought
  • Difficulty with planning and understanding things
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Changes in mood, personality, and behaviour
  • Feeling disoriented and confused
  • Difficulty with walking and keeping balanced on feet
  • Problems with memory and language

Day-to-day life

Vascular dementia can affect how a person thinks and feels in their day-to-day life. Their personality and overall behaviour may differ to what it once was, and they may struggle with some of the listed physical symptoms.  Changes can be minor at first, but can deteriorate further and become increasingly difficult to manage over time.

This is when extra support with daily tasks, and developing coping strategies is often required. Vascular dementia can cover a variety of symptoms with hugely differing degrees of severity, so a tailored support package is required for every sufferer.

What can we do

Moving a loved one suffering with dementia to a residential care home can be upsetting and difficult for the person and their family. This is why at Minster Home Care we offer a dementia home care service. We provide the same quality of care as a residential home but deliver it in the home environment where sufferers feel their most safe and comfortable.

We encourage a relationship- focused approach that allows your loved one to really get to know and feel comfortable around their carer. We also ensure engagement continues in sufferers, actively encouraging and supporting social interaction and activity with family and friends.

Whether supporting the independence of those in our care by helping out with daily tasks such as preparing meals and running errands, providing family respite care or offering more extensive care – our dementia care services (covering all forms of dementia) are ever-evolving and tailored to the needs of each and every individual.

To find out more about how you can join the Minster Home Care family, or if you or your loved one would like to learn more about our services, call us on 01904 929 080 or visit our contact page.