How Does Vascular Dementia Progress
Vascular dementia does not always have a typical progression that might be classified into stages, although its symptoms can generally be classified as fitting in the early stages, middle stages, or late stages of dementia.
Early stages of vascular dementia often includeimpaired memory, difficulty with executive functioning, word-finding difficulty, and a decline in attention. Mood and personality changes may also be seen in vascular dementia, and some people experience a decline in balance and walking.
How Is Dementia Diagnosed
No single test can determine if your loved one has dementia. A physician will examine several factors to come up with a diagnosis, including a full medical history, physical exam, laboratory tests, and recognizing a pattern of loss of function and skills. With a high-level of certainty, doctors can diagnose a person with dementia, but its more challenging to define the exact type of dementia. Biomarkers can help make an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimers disease, which is included under the umbrella of dementia.
Vascular Dementia Prognosis And Life Expectancy
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.
- 85 89
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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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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.
The 7 Stages Of Dementia
Living with and understanding Dementia stages can be difficult. Here we offer a more clearly defined picture of the whole Dementia journey. What are the signs of Dementia to look out for in a loved one? And if you do spot these signals of Dementia, what actions can you take?
Alzheimers & Dementia Care Services
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The Start Of The Dying Process
As someones condition worsens and they get to within a few days or hours of dying, further changes are common. The person will often:
- deteriorate more quickly than before
- lose consciousness
- develop an irregular breathing pattern
- have cold hands and feet.
These changes are part of the dying process. Healthcare professionals can explain these changes so you understand what is happening. The person is often unaware of what is happening, and they should not be in pain or distress.
Medication can be used to treat the persons symptoms. If the person cant swallow, there are other ways of providing this, such as medication patches on the skin, small injections or syringe drivers . Speak to a GP or another health professional about this.
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Late Stages Of Vascular Dementia
The extent to which a person with dementia experiences confusion or disorientation increases significantly as they progress into the late stages of vascular dementia. Communication, short-term memory, and logical reasoning are also negatively impacted. Expect to increase your level of support for your loved one as he or she advances from the early stages of vascular dementia to the late stages. Your family member may need help with cleaning and other chores around the house.
You may also notice an exacerbation of the following symptoms:
Eventually, your loved one will depend on your 24/7 assistance with their daily routine.
Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Decline
Stage 3 is where dementia or Alzheimers disease symptoms can become more noticeable to friends and family. This stage will not have a major impact on your loved ones everyday life, but signs can include:
- Trouble with complex tasks and problem-solving
- Memory loss and forgetfulness
- Asking the same question repeatedly
- Diminished work performance
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Symptoms Of Vascular Dementia
Symptoms of vascular dementia depend on what part of the brain is affected and to what extent. Like Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms of vascular dementia are often mild for a long time. They may include:
- Problems with short-term memory
- Wandering or getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Laughing or crying at inappropriate times
- Trouble concentrating, planning, or following through on activities
- Trouble managing money
- Hallucinations or delusions
Symptoms that suddenly get worse often signal a stroke. Doctors look for symptoms that progress in noticeable stages to diagnose vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s, by comparison, progresses at a slow, steady pace. Another clue is impaired coordination or balance. In vascular dementia, problems walking or balancing can happen early. With Alzheimer’s, these symptoms usually occur late in the disease.
Does The Type Of Dementia Affect Life Expectancy
The type of dementia a person has can also affect how long they live with dementia. These figures for the number of years a person may live after a diagnosis are just averages and some people live longer than this.
This information may be upsetting to read and think about but it is very important to remember that, with the right support, people with dementia can live well at all stages.;
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What Is Vascular Dementia
Compared to Alzheimer’s disease, which happens when the brain‘s nerve cells break down, vascular dementia happens when part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood carrying the oxygen and nutrients it needs.
Though they happen in different ways, it is possible to have both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Discouraging as this sounds, there is ample reason to control the risk factors that contribute to vascular dementia. Allowing the condition to run its course without intervention can make Alzheimer’s disease worse.
What Is The Final Stage Of Vascular Dementia
While there are no defined stages of vascular dementia, the disease does eventually end with death, explains the Alzheimer’s Association. As with other forms of dementia, vascular dementia shortens a person’s life expectancy. Research suggests that a person who develops dementia as a result of a stroke lives for three years on average. Cognitive changes occasionally improve as the brain reproduces new cells and blood vessels that establish new roles.
Vascular dementia, the result of conditions that limit blood flow to the brain, can range from mild to severe in its impact on thinking skills, notes the Alzheimer’s Association. Symptoms of vascular dementia that immediately follow a stroke may include a loss of vision, disorientation, confusion, and a difficulty speaking or understanding speech. Depending on where blood flow is reduced, memory loss may or may not occur. These symptoms often coincide with other notable signs of a stroke, such as headaches and paralysis on one side of the body.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any medications for treatment of vascular dementia, as of 2015. Treatment generally involves lessening the risk factors for further damage to the brain’s blood vessels, claims the Alzheimer’s Association. Some suggestions include avoiding smoking and alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, establishing a well-balanced diet, exercising, and keeping blood pressure within the recommended levels.
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Symptoms And Disease Course
Symptoms differ depending on what part and how much of the brain is affected, and can overlap with those of other types of dementia. Symptoms are likely to be more gradual and less dramatic in multi-infarct than in post-stroke dementia. For example, in multi-infarct dementia a gradual decline in some aspects of speech and language may be noticed, whereas immediately following a stroke there can be a sudden change in speech.
Vascular dementia does generally progress, but the speed and pattern of cognitive decline, motor skills slowing, and mood changes can vary. Some individuals may experience memory loss, whereas others may exhibit changes primarily in mood and behavior.
Like all dementias, individuals in later stages will show overall cognitive changes and will depend on others for care. Symptoms common in both post-stroke and multi-infarct type dementia can include:
- confusion and difficulty problem-solving
- changes in mood including loss of interest in regular activities
- trouble finding the right word
- motor symptoms including clumsiness and slow or unsteady gait disturbance.
Family caregivers may find it difficult to know how to provide help when symptoms are so variable. Getting a definitive diagnosis will make it easier to provide care now and in the future.
Tips For Caregivers: Management
Medications are available to calm an overactive bladder, if overactive bladder is the cause of the incontinence. But some have side effects that can make dementia worse. Talk with the doctor about options that apply to the person youre caring for. In some cases, where incontinence is caused by an underlying medical condition, treating the condition may help.
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Be Aware Of Their Eating And Drinking
The person may have lost their appetite or have difficulties swallowing safely. In the last days, the person may stop eating or drinking. This can be very distressing to watch, but it is normal for people approaching the end of life.
You should offer the person food and drink for as long as it is safe and they show an interest. Its important to keep the persons mouth comfortable provide sips of fluids and keep lips moist and clean.
What Happens In The Later Stages Of Dementia
- Progressive loss of memoryThis can be a particularly disturbing time for family and carers as the person with dementia may fail to recognise close family members.
- Increased loss of physical abilitiesMost people with dementia gradually lose their ability to walk, wash, dress and feed themselves. Other illnesses such as stroke or arthritis may also affect them. Eventually the person will be confined to a bed or a chair.
- Increased difficulty communicatingA person with dementia will have increasing difficulty in understanding what is said or what is going on around them. They may gradually lose their speech, or repeat a few words or cry out from time to time. But continuing to communicate with them is very important. Remember, although many abilities are lost as dementia progresses, some – such as the sense of touch and ability to respond to emotions – remain.
- Problems eatingIt is common for people in the later stages of dementia to lose a considerable amount of weight. People may forget how to eat or drink, or may not recognise the food they are given. Some people become unable to swallow properly. Providing nutrition supplements may need to be considered. If a person has swallowing difficulties, or is not consuming food or drink over a significant period of time and their health is affected, nutrition supplements may be considered for consumption other than by mouth.
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Could This Be You
The person youre caring for has been living with dementia for a long time perhaps many years. Youve both had your fair share of problems but, youve coped admirably well. However:
They now need round-the-clock care They rarely talk or have little conversation They no longer recognise you or any of their nearest and dearest
The final stages of dementia can be incredibly hard for family and friends, but its important to be realistic about what you can or cant cope with, and to accept any help that youre offered. Family carers are often under a great deal of strain during this part of the journey, so make sure not to neglect your own health or needs.
What Are The Signs Of End
It is important for caregivers to know when an individual with dementia is close to the end of their life, because it helps ensure they receive the right amount of care at the right time. It can be difficult to know exactly when this time is due to the variable nature of dementias progression, but understanding common end-of-life symptoms of seniors with dementia can help. Below is a timeline of signs of dying in elderly people with dementia:
Final Six Months
- A diagnosis of another condition such as cancer, congestive heart failure or COPD
- An increase in hospital visits or admissions
Final Two-to-Three Months
- Speech limited to six words or less per day
- Difficulty in swallowing or choking on liquids or food
- Unable to walk or sit upright without assistance
- Hands, feet, arms and legs may be increasingly cold to the touch
- Inability to swallow
- Terminal agitation or restlessness
- An increasing amount of time asleep or drifting into unconsciousness
- Changes in breathing, including shallow breaths or periods without breathing for several seconds or up to a minute
Patients with dementia are eligible to receive hospice care if they have a diagnosis of six months or less to live if the disease progresses in a typical fashion. Once a patient begins experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is time to speak with a hospice professional about how they can help provide added care and support.
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How Might Dementia Affect People Towards The End Of Life
Dementia is progressive, which means it gets worse over time. In the last year of life, its likely to have a big impact on the persons abilities including memory, communication and everyday activities. The speed at which someone will get worse will depend on the type of dementia they have and who they are as an individual.;
The symptoms of later stage dementia include the following:
A person with later stage dementia often deteriorates slowly over many months. They gradually become more frail, and will need more help with everyday activities such as eating, dressing, washing and using the toilet. People may experience weight loss, as swallowing and chewing become more difficult.;
A person with later-stage dementia may also have symptoms that suggest they are close to death, but continue to live with these symptoms for many months. This can make it difficult for the person and their family to plan for the end of life. It also makes it difficult for those supporting them professionally.;
For more information on supporting someone with later stage dementia see Alzheimers Society factsheet, The later stages of dementia ;.