Mixed dementia may sound new, but it really isn’t. It’s actually quite common. In fact, most types of dementia are mixed dementia. In most cases, mixed dementia involves a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s can also come with Lewy body dementia or other neurological diseases. Mixed dementia is the presence of more than one type of dementia.
Someone living with mixed dementia will show signs of both. This is because different types of dementia have different causes. Making a diagnosis is not easy when it comes to mixed dementia.
The person living with mixed dementia will have symptoms of both. These can overlap, making it difficult to pinpoint. Not all the signs will be present at once.
Not everyone who has mixed dementia will exhibit the same symptoms. These symptoms will vary depending on what area of the brain is affected. Many people are only diagnosed with one type.
Changes in the brain happen for many years before there are any real signs. That means by the time these symptoms appear, the person is already deep in the disease.
Most people who are diagnosed with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease. It is a progressive disease that continues to get worse over time. And it often starts with mild memory loss and moves to the areas of the brain that control language.
Additionally, it robs people of the ability to carry on conversations, remember things that just happened, and even mobility. It is the main risk of Alzheimer’s, however, genetics can also be a factor.
As we age, it is normal to forget things. Forgetting where you put your keys or why you walked into a room can be normal. Getting lost in a familiar place is not considered normal.
Often, small tasks like paying bills or cleaning can become a chore. Forgetting to dress appropriately, losing items, and not recognizing family is also common.
Mood swings and changes in behavior are also common. Often due to frustration, the person may lash out at loved ones. People’s entire personalities may start to change.
Early diagnoses can help to manage the behavior concerns and even slow the symptoms down. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Vascular Dementia Common in Mixed Dementia
The second most common form of dementia is vascular dementia. This happens due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, from blocked arteries or blood clots. Heart disease, diabetes, strokes, blood clots, or damage to blood vessels can all be contributing factors.
If blood clots or blocked arteries result in a stroke, the chances of developing vascular dementia increase. The changes in a person’s condition can happen very quickly following the stroke.
Unlike Alzheimer’s, loss of memory is not always immediately present. Vascular dementia affects speech, communication, writing, and reading. This depends on what area of the brain is affected.
Drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s are not effective for vascular dementia. Vascular dementia caused by strokes, heart disease, or diabetes, are the conditions that receive treatment.
Following a healthier lifestyle will help to ease the symptoms. Stopping smoking, excessive amounts of alcohol, and getting more moderate exercise will ease symptoms.
Stationary activities will help someone when their balance and mobility are affected due to vascular dementia. Also engaging in mental tasks, puzzles, drawing, or similar activities may be enjoyable.
Treating mixed dementia is difficult as the different types require different treatments. One treatment for one type will have a negative response from the other.
There are no medications to treat mixed dementia. Alzheimer’s is usually the type of dementia most treated by doctors.
This makes it difficult for the patient and the carers. While some symptoms are treated by caregivers, others may be missed or ignored. If there are symptoms of two types of dementia, then medical professionals should treat both.
Other treatments for mixed dementia focus on the combination of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Managing cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes can help reduce the chances of another stroke. It will also help to lessen the potential progression of vascular dementia symptoms.
Keeping the patient safe, clean, and healthy is important. Regular meals and exercise when possible. Cutting back or eliminating alcohol, stopping smoking, and keeping their weight down are also important.
Making their surroundings safe and easy to manage will help them function and reduce the risk of injury. Other therapies, like occupational or physio, will also be of benefit.
Keep communicating with them, enjoy the time you have, and ask questions when they are lucid. Ask for help when you need it, or even if you don’t.
We Are Here to Help!
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation.
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!