Q: IS Vascular dementia different from Alzheimer’s
A: “Let’s first refresh what the term dementia is:
A person with significant problems of functioning in daily life because of memory and thinking is a condition of dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for many conditions. An example would be like “heart disease,” it covers a wide variety of treatments and conditions. Conditions under the term dementia are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes are a decline in thinking skills known as cognitive abilities, that disrupt and impair daily life and independent function. This would also include changes in feelings, behaviours, and relationships.”
The brain changes that cause dementia are usually permanent and worsen over time. There are changes that are temporary, but to have a diagnose of dementia there are two areas of the brain that are dying.
“Vascular dementia is a decline in thinking skills caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the various regions of the brain,” reported from alz.org,” depriving brain cells of vital oxygen and nutrients.” Disrupted flow of oxygen can damage and eventually kill cells anywhere in the body and brain.
Vascular dementia and sometimes referred as Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI) may have impaired thinking skills suddenly after having a stroke that affects major blood vessels to the brain. Depending on where the damage is and the severity, a person may experience mild to severe changes. Changes may worsen with multiple mini strokes or other conditions that damage smaller blood vessels.
Studies of Vascular dementia were found to coexist with other types of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia with Lewy bodies.
Alz.org as well as other associations and societies report that vascular dementia is widely considered the most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s. It is important to understand the full extent of vascular cognitive impairment and dementia because there are well-established strategies, including diet, exercise, and medications, to reduce overall risk of diseases of heart and blood vessels– including those in the brain
Q: “Why should I know the type of dementia my father has? Dementia is dementia, the behaviours are all the same.”
A: One might theoretically say that is true. However, treatment is not the same. A person-centred approach to care includes the diagnosis of the illness. There are medications that are best for different types of dementia. For example, you would not want to give a person with Lewy-bodies dementia a medication that is used for Parkinsons treatment. Even though. They have similar symptoms with movement challenges. There is a difference in where and how brain cells are damaged, therefore, the treatment is different. It is also better to know what type as you can better plan for the long-term future outcome. If you are unable to get a specific diagnose with the type of dementia your father has, it would be best to have an assessment to at least know the stage of dementia he has so you can learn his language. In learning his language, you can reduce his stress as well as yours.
Q: “Will I get Alzheimer’s? My granddad died with Alzheimer’s three years ago.”
A: There is no evidence that guarantees that you will get it because it is in your family, even if you have a specific gene type. What it means is that you are with a higher risk of developing it.
I would recommend that you learn the warning signs. Be aware and implement brain health. And do all you can to reduce stress in your life. Find a hobby you like to do or learn that requires you to use your hands, exercise and spend time with your loved ones now, enjoy and appreciate who they are. If you should be stricken with this disease, your family will have ways to communicate with you using things you enjoy, and your ability to remain mobile as long as possible while enhancing your quality of life.
Q: “My sister lives and cares for our mum. I call mummy every week and my sister knows this. My mum gives my sister a hard time about not hearing from me, or that I never call her. How can I help my mummy and sister?”
A: Buy your mum a journal and ask your sister to document your call and how much you love and miss her. When she complains to your sister, she can read the last time you called her. If she cannot read or understand, use pictures. The other option which I have learned is very effective with many people is to send her a voice message and have her send one back to you. Sooo cute!
Next Support meeting has been changed to July 18th
For more information regarding memory and cognitive changes, contact me at [email protected] or 486-4509