Though vascular dementia is rare, afflicting less than 200,000 people in the US every year, it is a serious type of brain damage that primarily affects older adults. The most extreme symptoms are memory loss and confusion, which means many patients must rely upon others for daily tasks of living. Fortunately, free home healthcare services are available to provide assistance to individuals while still allowing them a certain amount of independence. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms, some answers to common questions about vascular dementia may be helpful.
How does vascular dementia affect brain function?
When blood flow to the brain is restricted and the exchange of oxygen is impaired, the brain’s blood vessels are damaged. This reduces their ability to supply the brain with the essential materials it needs to function, particularly affecting the performance of thought-related processes. According to the Mayo Clinic, one common cause of restricted blood flow is stroke, otherwise termed an infarction that blocks the brain artery.
However, not all forms of vascular dementia are the result of a stroke. Any condition that causes narrowing or damage to blood vessels, either in the brain or which supply the brain, can lead to vascular dementia. Examples include:
- High blood pressure;
- Abnormal aging of blood vessels;
- High cholesterol;
- Diabetes; and,
- Brain hemorrhage, such as through an accident.
In addition, the simple fact of aging can lead to wear and tear on the blood vessels that supply the brain with essential oxygen and other materials.
What are some signs of vascular dementia?
An obvious stroke could be the first symptom of vascular dementia, but not all infarctions are outwardly evident. When the condition results from a silent stroke or other causes, it is important to spot such symptoms as:
- General confusion and disorientation;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Problems with organizing thoughts and making decisions based upon chronology;
- Reduced ability to assess an environmental stimulus and develop an effective response;
- Memory loss;
- Difficulties with balance and walking;
- Restlessness, impatience, and quick to anger;
- Inability to control evacuation of the bladder and bowels; and,
- Many other signs.
Is vascular dementia preventable or treatable?
The health of your blood vessels is closely linked to your heart. Staying active and getting plenty of exercise can reduce the likelihood of damage to blood vessels, potentially preventing a stroke. Since smoking is a considerable risk factor, quitting can also be preventative.
Vascular dementia cannot be cured, but it can be treated by addressing the underlying risk factors that cause stroke or damage to blood vessels. For instance, controlling medical conditions that affect heart health can slow progression.
Vascular Dementia and Benefits Coverage
You probably have many other questions regarding vascular dementia, whether it is you or a loved one who suffers from this debilitating condition. Your doctor can assist with medical inquiries and develop a course of treatment to reduce the effects. In addition, it is comforting to know that assistance may be available as part of your United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care benefits coverage. Please contact our team for more information on how we can help. Being a part of DOL EEOICPA program can make a huge difference in your life.