If you or someone you know has been struggling with memory loss or other cognitive issues, you may wonder about the difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
These 2 conditions are both forms of dementia, a term used to describe a decline in cognitive function that interferes with a person’s daily life. While both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be serious and have a significant impact on a person’s life, there are some key differences between them.
The main differences between vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s are:
- The cause
- How they progress
- How they’re treated
What Is Vascular Dementia?
Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that occurs when the brain’s blood supply is disrupted. This can be caused by a variety of issues, such as strokes, atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), and other problems with the blood vessels in the brain.
Symptoms of vascular dementia can include:
- Difficulty with memory and thinking
- Problems with decision-making and problem-solving
- Difficulty with language and communication
- Changes in behavior and mood
- Difficulty with movement and coordination
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It’s the most common cause of dementia in older adults and is characterized by the presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease typically develop slowly and may include:
- Memory loss, especially of recent events
- Difficulty with language and communication
- Difficulty with problem-solving and decision-making
- Changes in mood and behavior
- Loss of motivation and interest in activities
Causes of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, often as a result of a stroke or series of small strokes. When blood flow to the brain is reduced, it can lead to damage to brain cells and cause problems with memory, thinking, and other cognitive abilities.
Causes of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain. These proteins form plaques and tangles that can disrupt communication between brain cells and eventually lead to the death of brain cells.
How Does Vascular Dementia Progress?
Vascular dementia tends to occur in “steps” with periods of stability followed by sudden declines in cognitive function. This is because vascular dementia is often caused by a specific event, such as a stroke, that can lead to a sudden decline in cognitive function.
How Does Alzheimer’s Progress?
Alzheimer’s disease tends to progress gradually over time, with a slow decline in cognitive function. While there may be fluctuations in cognitive function, the overall decline tends to be more gradual and steady.
How Is Vascular Dementia Treated?
Vascular dementia is often treated with medications to prevent stroke, such as controlling high blood pressure or cholesterol levels. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to repair or remove damaged blood vessels.
How Is Alzheimer’s Treated?
Alzheimer’s disease has no cure and is generally treated with medications that can help to slow the progression of the disease or manage symptoms. Other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and occupational therapy, may also help manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s important to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for you or a loved one.
It’s important to note that vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can occur together, a condition known as mixed dementia.
This means the brain has been affected by both the build-up of abnormal proteins (as seen in Alzheimer’s disease) and reduced blood flow to the brain (as seen in vascular dementia). This can cause a range of symptoms, and the severity of these symptoms may vary depending on which condition is more dominant.
Mixed dementia can be a complex condition, and the treatment may depend on which condition is more dominant. For example, if vascular dementia is the more dominant condition, treatment may focus on managing risk factors for stroke.
If Alzheimer’s disease is the more dominant condition, treatment may involve medications to slow the progression of the disease or manage symptoms.
Memory Care with Fox Trail at Cresskill
As we age, it’s natural for our memory to decline to some extent. However, for some people, memory loss can affect daily life and independence. Memory care communities are specialized living arrangements for seniors experiencing memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.
Memory care with Fox Trail at Cresskill offers a safe and supportive environment for seniors with memory loss, providing them with the care and assistance they need to manage their condition.
Our community has highly trained staff and structured programs in place to help seniors with memory loss maintain their independence and quality of life.
If you’re interested in memory care for a loved one and have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or request a visit.