Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

Vascular dementia can have symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

These may include memory loss, disorientation and problems with communication. There can also be more specific symptoms and these will differ depending on the area of the brain affected.

These symptoms may include:

  • Slower thinking – taking more time to process information and to form thoughts and sentences.
  • Personality changes – people may become low in mood, more emotional or lose interest in what’s happening around them.
  • Movement problems – difficulty walking or changes in the way a person walks.
  • Stability – unsteadiness and falls.
  • Bladder problems – frequent urge to urinate or other bladder symptoms. This can be common in older age, but can be a feature of vascular dementia when seen with other symptoms.

The symptoms of vascular dementia get worse over time. In the later stages the condition affects more aspects of everyday life and people need help eating, dressing and using the toilet.

Vascular dementia normally progresses over several years. However, the speed of change can vary over time and from person to person. There may be a sudden change after an event such as a stroke.

This information was updated in January 2018 and is due for review in January 2020. It does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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