Unlike Alzheimer’s disease which is still poorly understood, it’s well accepted that vascular dementia is caused by strokes, often a series of small, “silent” strokes. While early stage Alzheimer’s is characterized mostly by memory loss, vascular dementia more generally affects executive function, multi-tasking, problem-solving and reasoning. It’s important to understand that more than one type of dementia can be present, which can further complicate a diagnosis.
When people are having a major stroke, they are likely to be aware that something is happening that could cause significant damage unless immediate medical intervention is sought. However, the undiagnosed mini-strokes that can result in mild cognitive impairment leading to vascular dementia often occur without any immediate evidence that something is wrong.