Dementia usually occurs in people who are above the age of 80. Patients diagnosed with this disease are expected to have an average lifespan of 4.5 years, during which their condition slowly deteriorates. More than 70% of dementia cases are related to Alzheimer’s, but another prevalent branch is vascular dementia. It does not affect as many people as Alzheimer’s but has the same average lifespan of 4.5 years. In few cases, this can increase to as much as 7 years.
Causes of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by impaired blood flow to the brain. This can be triggered by a heart attack/stroke where the arteries that supply blood to the brain become blocked, or it can also be a result of a fall which may result in a rupture in the arteries which could hinder the supply of oxygen and blood to the brain. The restricted amount of blood can prevent the brain from developing and processing things properly, thus resulting in a loss of functionality in everyday tasks. A lot depends on the severity of the stroke/fall and not everyone who has a heart attack/stroke or a fall will develop vascular dementia.
A dementia patient will normally require full-time care, both at home and when they are out.
Care for Younger People
Vascular Dementia is rare in people under the age of 65, but it is not unheard of. It can become complicated in the beginning whilst the family is still learning how to care for the young patient who will also need to adapt. There is no permanent cure for the disease irrespective of the age, but there are certain lifestyle changes the patient can make which may slow down the effects of deterioration:
- Losing weight if overweight
- Stopping smoking (including any nicotine based product)
- Reducing the consumption of alcohol
- Eating healthily
Younger dementia patients require the same amount of care as elderly dementia patients.
Having a loved one, regardless of their age, suffer through dementia is painful for both the patient and their family. Memory loss is one of the effects of Vascular dementia, they may not remember how to do daily tasks and this can cause them to become agitated and confused which can result in the patient harming themselves or others around them. Looking after a dementia patient is a full-time job and not every family will have the ability to provide this. It is also important to consider that the carer is also aging and may not have the capacity to manage by themselves (i.e. a mother caring for their child or a wife caring of her husband).
It is important for people with dementia to feel reassured and supported whilst maintaining some level of independence which is why a strong family support system is necessary in order to minimize the suffering and ensure they continue to live a normal life. It is recommended that family/friends continue to visit regularly to ensure they are doing well and happy, as well as to help with any problems they may be facing.
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