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Advice:
Early Stages of Vascular Dementia?
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Hi, I think my Dad may have the first signs of Vascular Dementia. For about a year now he has been more moody than usual, and irritable, prone to outbursts which are out of character. He had to be rushed into hospital about 18 months ago when he woke up with some chest pain, and given ECGs. They found he had irregular heart rhythems and the beginnings of a blood clot. However, this was dealt with in around 2 days, and he was soon back home. They said it was a virus which had affected his heart. He takes a daily aspirin to prevent recurrence. He has sometimes had odd symptoms like one arm feeling weak, but this has passed without further symptoms, so he did not see the doctor. Could this have been a mini-stroke???

I think my Dad now has some depression and paranoia. It's hard to tell whether his memory has worsened, as it has never been great! He often gets mixed up with people's names, so that is nothing new for him! The other night however, he misplaced his mobile, and could not find it anywhere. He had to ring it to locate it, and when it rang it was obviously on his person somewhere, but it still took him a good few minutes to realise it was in his inner fleece pocket...!!

Do you think these symptoms are connected to dementia?
Posted on 11/29/11, 08:30 am
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Advice:
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Reply #1 - 11/29/11  4:15pm
" You don;t mention how old your father is...sometimes it's just old age creeping up. To get a true diagnosis of vascular dementia they would have to do a mri of his brain. This shows the hardening (black spots instead of gray) of the tissue.

The only reason to get a "real" diagnosis is to see if there is something that can be done to slow things down. Say if he had a blockage or high blood pressure that can be fixed. It won't fix the damage already done to the brain but it can slow or stop further damage.

One sign of vascular dementia that you didn't mention was instability. This type is known for falling or being unbalanced. My dad was finally diagnosed because he took a bad fall when walking on an indoor walking track. He had been walking hunched over and leaning forward. He also blacked out and fell in the house one day.

Another symptom is being tired and sleeping much more. This can happen with age but can also be a sign of recovering from a TIA.

I mentioned before about "if" you need a real diagnosis because all dementias seem to progress and be treated in similar ways. So the only reason for more testing is if you think there is something that can be done to slow or stop the progression.

There is a really good group here called "alzheimers dementia group". Even if that is not the cause the people there have lots of great advice. "
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Reply #2 - 11/30/11  3:04am
" It's not just old age creeping up, it's out of character. It's either something like dementia or some deep-seated worry that he will not discuss. I'm not sure which is worse. He's always slept alot and sometimes lost balance, hard to say if this has become worse. He's just turned 75. "
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Reply #3 - 11/30/11  6:18am
" Can you get him to go for a complete physical? Then you can let the doctor know what you are concerned about. "
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Reply #4 - 12/30/11  10:20pm
" My husband had a battery of neuropsychological tests and ended up with a diagnosis of "dementia not otherwise specified," which means they don't know what caused it. It isn't typical of Alzheimer's, Lewy Body or Korsakoff's. His BP is erratic, normal some days and high others. His MRI showed diffuse sulcal enlargement and microangiopathy, but no evidence of infarct or focal lesions--whatever that means. His cardiologist says he doesn't need BP meds, his internist says he does. He also has beginning heart failure. I just wonder if with his dementia we should be spending so much time and Medicare money on things that don't really bother him right now. If it would slow down or reverse the dementia, I'd be all for it, but it won't. "
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Reply #5 - 03/27/13  9:44am
" Hi just a little update... it's been over a year since I wrote this post, but it still seems like something is not quite right with my Dad. I should have mentioned he quite often seems suspicious of me and will say things which sound very hurtful, like he doesn't trust me at all! Things I would never expect him to say if he was in his right mind. This has not really got much worse over the past year, but has remained the same. I also should've mentioned he has had 2 heart scares in the past few years, causing him to be in hospital for a few days, and he was found to have an irregular heartbeat. Although this was temporary, I suspect it could've affected his brain and possibly triggered his current mental state. It is hurtful when he seems to not trust me. If I argue with my Mum, he won't even believe her when she says it was her fault, he has to blame me!! He seems to think she's only covering up for me whilst I secretly plot the downfall of the family.... totally overlooking all the nice things I do to help them every day, the hoovering, the cooking, the driving etc. He seems to think my Mum is Jesus whereas I'm supposed to be the devil...!! This doesn't seem right to me :( "
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Reply #6 - 03/27/13  10:21am
" Sounds like a normal progression. Be happy that he is treating your mother well and play along with it.

Would he consider seeing a doctor and taking medication that might even his disposition? "
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Reply #7 - 03/31/13  3:58pm
" I'm not really sure what the "early stages" of Vascular Dementia are, my dad had it and I had never heard of it before that day. I did lots of research and lots of reading on what it was and what to expect. The internet is full of valuable websites.

My mother in law also had Dementia and I will say that any kind of Dementia is difficult for the family to watch. My mother in law fell alot and kept progressively getting worse. My dad on the other hand had been living on his own, driving his car...which I was very concerned about, and supposedly doing just fine. He was 500 miles from me, and hindsight being 20-20...I realized that whenever I would go see him he would work very hard to make it seem like everything was ok and he was doing fine. Once I realized he was not paying his bills and not taking his medicine properly and would drive his car and get lost....I took him to the doctor for an exam, he was hospitalized and put into a Nursing Home, to keep him safe and off the roads for a few weeks until I could find somewhere here by me to move him. By the time I could go back to get him, I realized how much he needed me to help him make the right choices for him. So my husband and I rented a mini-van, 2 tanks of oxygen and helped him escape the nasty nursing home they put him in. Once he got here I had him in a very very nice assisted living facility, where he would be safe, get the medicine he needed and I could help care for him. That was the beginning of the Vascular Dementia fee-fall....I watched him go downhill pretty quickly...He got excellent medical care, diagnostic testing and appropiate medication dosing. In the end, almost a year from from when it all started, he gave up the battle. I began servces with Hospice and made sure he was peaceful all the way to the end.

I wish you the best of luck with your dad....you know what is and isn't right......be his best advocate. He will say things that wil hurt your feelings, you most likely will cry alot ( I did ) and as this nasty disease progresses, you will see major changes.

Judi "
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Reply #8 - 04/13/13  2:29am
" Depression, that some heart medications can actually cause, can make a person forgetful and unable to focus on ordinary things. Many times, heart issues - and mini-storkes - cause depression. You might need to take him to see his internist and describe his behavior changes. I did this for my husband, and the doctor said he was mildly depressed. He gave him a low dose of medication, and within a week, he was noticiably better. He became more active and cheerful - still forgot names and where he put stuff, but he was happier and could do so much more. Hope this helps. "

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