How Do Strokes Affect Symptoms of Dementia?

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Just over 400,000 adults 65 and older in Canada are living with dementia, according to estimates on the Government of Canada’s website. Additionally, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, more than 60,000 strokes are experienced in Canada each year, many of which affect older adults. Therefore, if you’re caring for a senior loved one with dementia, you may be wondering if the symptoms will get worse if he or she has a stroke. Here’s what you need to know.

Stroke-Related Vascular Dementia May Worsen Symptoms

Nearly 90 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes. This type of stroke is caused by a clot that blocks a blood vessel that supplies the brain. Seniors can also have transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or “mini-strokes.” Both of these types of strokes can result in vascular dementia, which is a type of dementia caused by a disruption of blood flow to the brain. According to the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations for 2019, anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of stroke survivors experience vascular cognitive impairment and/or increased anxiety and fatigue. Having vascular dementia on top of existing dementia may worsen cognitive issues.

Stroke Symptoms May Naturally Be Worse if Dementia Already Existed

There’s some evidence suggesting people with existing dementia symptoms may be more likely to have more noticeable cognitive difficulties after a stroke. This assessment may be due to the fact that a stroke likely causes a brain already experiencing changes related to dementia to work harder to recover from a stroke.

A trained caregiver with experience in caring for seniors with dementia can be a fantastic resource for family members. Families looking for top-rated Edmonton senior home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

Symptoms Related to Strokes & Dementia May Overlap

Dementia symptoms may appear to worsen following a stroke, since issues related to each of these conditions sometimes overlap. For instance, dementia and strokes can both contribute to:

• Confusion and/or memory loss
• Problem-solving difficulties
• Time/place confusion
• Difficulty with communication
• Anxiety and/or depression

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

There Are Ways to Help a Senior Stroke Survivor with Dementia

One thing you can do if your loved one has a stroke is to let the doctor providing stroke care know your loved one already has dementia. Also, discuss how your loved one has been affected by dementia. This information can help the doctor determine which symptoms may be related to the stroke and which ones are likely associated with preexisting dementia.

On a positive note, vascular dementia related to a stroke is sometimes temporary and reversible. If this is the case, your loved one’s dementia symptoms may naturally revert to what they were pre-stroke. Ultimately, how a stroke affects a senior with dementia will depend on several factors, including the severity of the stroke and how his or her brain was affected. You may be able to help your loved one recover as much as possible by:

• Monitoring symptoms as he or she goes through recovery
• Following recommendations for therapy
• Helping with appropriate lifestyle changes to prevent another stroke
• Making note of any new or worsening symptoms that didn’t exist pre-stroke

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Edmonton families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (780) 490-7337 to learn more about our high-quality home care services.


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