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Does Vascular Dementia Go Away

Is Excessive Sleeping Part Of The Vascular Dementia Stages

Early onset vascular dementia – A daughter’s perspective – My mum has dementia

My mother is sleeping all night and virtually all day apart from a couple of hours. Does this happen as part of one of the stages?

She is not incontinent or aggressive and eats well when she is awake. She hasn’t forgotten our names but is starting to forget places , for example, she didn’t recognise the town she was brought up in and her short term memory is appalling.

I just don’t know what stage she is at, she was diagnosed about 4 years ago.

My husband has vascular dementia diagnosed 3 years ago. He is sleeps 11 hours at night and sleeps away most of the day in his chair. He doesnt want to be bothered to wake up. This scares me and Im not sure if I should try to keep him awake or just let him sleep.

My Mother does this too. After meals, right back to bed or her recliner. I was scared meds needed adjusting but it’s progression of disorder. This is everyday except when she agrees to let me take her to a local Sr Center for lunch with friends. We have games, puzzles, etc. She refuses any outdoor activity.

My husband was diagnosed 4 years ago too, He sleeps alot too. He’ll go to sleep about 7:30 and sleep until 9 or 10. Takes naps in afternoon too.

Sounds like later stages to me.

Vascular Dementia Signs And Symptoms

Vascular dementia affects different people in different ways and the speed of the progression also varies from person to person. Some symptoms may be similar to those of other types of dementia and usually reflect increasing difficulty to perform everyday activities like eating, dressing, or shopping.

Behavioral and physical symptoms can come on dramatically or very gradually, although it appears that a prolonged period of TIAsthe mini-strokes discussed aboveleads to a gradual decline in memory, whereas a bigger stroke can produce profound symptoms immediately. Regardless of the rate of appearance, vascular dementia typically progresses in a stepwise fashion, where lapses in memory and reasoning abilities are followed by periods of stability, only to give way to further decline.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Vascular Dementia
Mental and Emotional Signs and Symptoms
  • Slowed thinking
  • Language problems, such as difficulty finding the right words for things
  • Getting lost in familiar surroundings
  • Laughing or crying inappropriately
  • Difficulty planning, organizing, or following instructions
  • Difficulty doing things that used to come easily
  • Reduced ability to function in daily life

Dementia Experts Weigh In

I decided to put on my journalist hat and ask some dementia experts. I put the question like this:

Can dementia physiologically damage the brain in such a waythat anger is the only available expression for that person? Or: Can dementiaalone result in someone being in a permanent emotional state of anger andaggression?

I started with Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, a decades-long advocate for elders with dementia and visionary founder and CEO of Positive Approach to Care.

The answer is, not typically, she said. For people who tend to be angry people, certainly going to give them more opportunities to be dissatisfied and to be irritated and angry more often. Ive not seen any dementia keep a person angry all the time. I have seen be more negative, but its often the environment or our behavior that escalates them into anger.

Brains are so complicated that anything is possibleso Im not going say its not possible, said Melanie Bunn, RN, MS, nurse consultant for more than 30 years and Positive Approach to Care trainer. But I havent really seen anybody in my practice who I couldnt do something to make life better. There are some people who are just not ever going to be happy, but Ive never had anybody I wasnt able to help.

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Stage : Moderate Dementia

Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.

While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.

Managing The Effects Of Mixed Dementia

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If the symptoms are more suggestive of Alzheimers, the person with mixed dementia may be prescribed a type of medication called cholinesterase inhibitors. There are three options: Donepezil, Rivastigmine or Galantamine. However if vascular dementia is also suspected there is evidence that lifestyle changes and regular monitoring and treatment of blood pressure problems can prevent or slow the progression of the mixed dementia.

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Stages Of Vascular Dementia

The symptoms of vascular dementia can vary depending on the brain region affected by the lack of blood flow. Although vascular dementia may have stages of progression, some may be skipped depending on the severity of the insult. For example, a significant stroke affecting a more substantial part of the brain may almost immediately lead to a person progressing to the later stages.

It is important to remember that unlike Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia may not progress slowly. The patient may get much worse after a stroke occurs. In subcortical dementia, gradual progression is possible due to a slow deterioration of the brains white matter.

Common early-stage symptoms of vascular dementia:

  • Slower thought processing.
  • Difficulty following simple directions, such as making a recipe.
  • Trouble with concentration with periods of confusion.
  • Problems planning, organizing, making decisions, and solving problems.

The patient may also have difficulties with:

  • Memory
  • Speaking
  • Visual perception

Patients in the early stages often show changes in mood, including depression, anxiety, and apathy. If the patient is aware of their diagnosis, they may be more susceptible to depression. Rapid mood swings are also frequent in these patients.

Later stage symptoms:

These patients may become violent, even if they have never been aggressive in the past. They may demonstrate an altered sleep-wake cycle, which makes caring for them difficult.

What Are The Different Types Of Dementia

Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.

The five most common forms of dementia are:

  • Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
  • Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
  • Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
  • Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
  • Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.

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Vascular Dementia Timeline & Life Expectancy

Although vascular dementia affects everyone differently, the life expectancy or timeline for a person with the condition is around five years after the first appearance of symptoms. Its generally caused by a stroke or heart attack. However, successful vascular dementia treatment can help promote a purpose-filled way of life during this time.

Who Can Diagnose Dementia

Olives story: living with vascular dementia

Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.

If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.

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Vascular Dementia Treatment And Life Expectancy

There is no cure for vascular dementia, but the earlier its diagnosed, the better chance there is of reducing the impact and severity of symptoms.

Lifestyle changesThe goal of vascular dementia treatment is to improve the conditions that may be causing it.

Lifestyle changes can help prevent further damage and slow the progression of symptoms.

Your older adults doctor will help create a plan to lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Theyll also encourage a healthier diet and regular exercise to prevent clogged arteries, heart attack, and stroke.

Stopping smoking, reducing the use of alcohol, and keeping diabetes well-controlled also reduces damage from vascular problems.

Drugs to treat vascular dementiaThere arent any FDA-approved drugs that treat symptoms of vascular dementia.

But certain drugs approved to treat Alzheimers may help to boost memory and cognitive abilities.

Life expectancyLike other types of dementia, vascular dementia shortens life span. But catching it early and preventing further damage is the best treatment.

If the conditions that cause vascular dementia arent treated, the outcome isnt good.

Vascular dementia disease progression isnt always visible. Someone may seem fine without treatmentuntil another stroke takes away more brain function.

Without treatment, vascular dementia usually causes death from stroke, heart disease, or infection.

Chronic Blood Vessel Issues

Atherosclerosis , autoimmune vascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic blood vessel issues tend to progress the symptoms and stages of vascular dementia gradually. Thats because the constricted blood vessels limit the flow of oxygen to the brain tissue increasingly as time goes on.

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What Are The Symptoms

Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. The different types of dementia tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages.

A person with dementia will often have cognitive symptoms . They will often have problems with some of the following:

  • Day-to-day memory difficulty recalling events that happened recently.
  • Repetition repeating the same question or conversation frequently in a short space of time.
  • Concentrating, planning or organising difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks .
  • Language difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something.
  • Visuospatial skills – problems judging distances and seeing objects in three dimensions.
  • Orientation – losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.

Some people have other symptoms including movement problems, hallucinations or behaviour changes.

Vascular Dementia Prognosis And Life Expectancy

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Now that you have a better idea of what a vascular dementia diagnosis could look like, I am sure you are wondering, what is vascular dementia life expectancy? It is hard to accept, but there is no cure right now for vascular dementia. Treatment can slow the progression of symptoms, but the damage done to the brain cant be reversed.

Life expectancy with vascular dementia can be hard to talk about, but the truth is that it does appear to shorten life. The most common cause of death is usually complications of dementia linked to cardiovascular disease. It is also important to know that life expectancy for someone with vascular dementia can be cut even shorter if the person has another stroke or heart attack in addition to the brain damage.

We cant say for certain what stroke dementia life expectancy is because the symptoms vary from person-to-person, and as you can tell from the stages outlined above, the outcome can depend on how far the disease is in each sufferer. If there are other health conditions, it could have a significant impact on life expectancy. Age also plays a large role in each case. Depending on the stage of dementia, both medications and lifestyle adjustments can be applied to help prevent the disease from worsening.

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If you are concerned about end-stage vascular life expectancy, you should discuss it with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Vascular Dementia Treatment And Support

A person can live well with vascular dementia with drug and non-drug treatment, support and activities.

The person should have a chance to talk to a health or social care professional about their dementia diagnosis. This could be a psychiatrist or mental health nurse, a clinical psychologist, occupational therapist or GP. Information on what support is available and where to go for further advice is vital in helping someone to stay physically and mentally well.

Types Of Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia can be divided into two types: post-stroke dementia and multi-infarct dementia .

POST-STROKE DEMENTIASymptoms are most obvious when they arise suddenly following a stroke, resulting in the blood supply to the brain being suddenly interrupted due to a blocked artery. This disruption can lead to damage or death of brain tissue. Not all stroke victims develop dementia it is estimated that approximately 20% of stroke patients develop post-stroke dementia within six months. Post-stroke dementia can result in physical symptoms and/or problems with vision or speech. Symptoms depend on what area and how much of the brain is affected.

MULTI-INFARCT DEMENTIAThis type of dementia results from a series of mini-strokes in vessels located deep within the brain . These mini-strokes may not lead to any sudden obvious onset of symptoms however, even these âsilent brain infarctionsâ still increase the risk of dementia, a result of disease of the brainâs blood vessels. Over time, the effects of this damage can result in dementia. Progression is referred to as âstep-wiseâ because symptoms worsen after any additional mini-strokes and then remain the same for a time. Symptoms that may develop include changes in reasoning and other thinking skills such as memory, as well as mood and behavior problems, including depression and apathy.

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Research Into The Cause Of Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most commonly diagnosed type of dementia, and may account for 15 – 20% of all cases. Vascular dementia is caused by chronic reduced blood flow to the brain, usually as a result of a stroke or series of strokes. It can often coexist with Alzheimer’s disease.

Stroke, small vessel disease, or a mixture of the two can cause vascular dementia. Most commonly there is a blockage of small blood vessels somewhere in the network of arteries that feeds the brain. Blockages may be caused by plaque build up on the inside of the artery wall, or by blood clots which have broken loose. Clots can form as a result of abnormal heart rhythms, or other heart abnormalities. Also, a weak patch on an artery wall can balloon outward and form an aneurysm, which can burst and deprive brain cells of oxygen.

It is estimated that about 50% of cases of vascular dementia result from high blood pressure, which can lead to a major stroke or a series of strokes and a build up of brain damage over time. Less common causes of vascular dementia are associated with autoimmune inflammatory diseases of the arteries such as lupus and temporal arteritis, which are treatable with drugs that suppress the immune system.

An inherited form of vascular dementia known as CADASIL is caused by a mutation on the Notch3 gene. This is a very rare form of dementia and only affects families carrying the Notch3 gene mutation.

Stage : Initial Mild Stage

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Initial mild stage is also one of the vascular dementia that people should know and try to reduce its signs and symptoms for good.

This is known as the starting of this kind of disorder. During this stage, he or she will become more forgetful than ever before.

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They will have difficulty in remembering what they were talking about and what they need to do. Besides, they will find it hard to concentrate at work, thus decreasing work performance. People can get lost more often and feel difficult to find the right words.

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This stage of vascular dementia often begins to show signs and symptoms, about 5-7 years before the prediction of the presence of this disorder. Also, there is no diagnosis of vascular dementia.

This is in brief one of the vascular dementia stages, so people should not look down, yet work with their doctors and familiars in order to manage their conditions.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.

The symptoms of dementia can vary and may include:

  • Experiencing memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion
  • Difficulty speaking, understanding and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
  • Wandering and getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Trouble handling money responsibly and paying bills
  • Repeating questions
  • Not caring about other peoples feelings
  • Losing balance and problems with movement

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognizing their symptoms can be particularly difficult. Its important to consider a persons current abilities and to monitor for changes over time that could signal dementia.


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