Symptoms of Vascular Dementia

Symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on what part of the brain is affected and the cause of the vascular dementia. A common early symptom of vascular dementia is a decline in the ability to organize thoughts or actions. Often the most noticeable symptom of vascular dementia is memory problems. Other symptoms include the following:

  • confusion and agitation
  • difficulty solving problems
  • unsteady walking
  • difficulty "finding" words
  • urinary frequency, urgency, or incontinence
  • mood problems or changes in personality

Symptoms Related to Stroke or Mini-stroke

People with vascular dementia may also have other (physical) signs of a stroke or ministrokes. There may be a localized area of the body, such as a hand or the facial muscles, that is weakened or the person may have a numb area somewhere on the body.

Onset and Course of Symptoms

Symptoms of vascular dementia may have a sudden onset if they are related to a stroke or mini-stroke. People with this type of vascular dementia, sometimes called multi-infarct dementia, have a so-called "stepwise" progression of their symptoms, meaning that their symptoms stay the same for awhile and then suddenly get worse as the individual has additional strokes or mini-strokes.

People with other forms of vascular dementia will have a gradual increase in symptoms and the disease will slowly get worse over time. This is similar to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.