Unlike regular strokes, silent strokes may last for just a few minutes and cause no recognizable symptoms. However, memory problems are one of the most common symptoms of a silent stroke, but they’re difficult to recognize and can lead to permanent damage.
Seniors who have had strokes often need help with the everyday tasks of life. Families looking for top-rated elderly 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.
Here’s how a silent stroke can affect memory.
How a Silent Stroke Affects Memory
Not so long ago, very little was known about the effects of silent strokes, nor was it known just how common they really are. A 2011 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health examined hundreds of seniors who had no histories of memory problems or dementia. Researchers tracked interruptions in blood supply to participants’ brains with MRIs and administered memory tests. At the end of the study, about 25 percent of seniors showed evidence of silent strokes, but the majority had reported no stroke symptoms. Researchers found that the seniors who had silent strokes had difficulty with cognition and memory and performed worse on memory tests than they had at the start of the study.
This groundbreaking study found that even silent strokes can cause memory problems, but they tend to be subtle. The type of memory loss or forgetfulness that’s often blamed on normal aging may in fact be caused by a silent stroke, which causes very small spots of dead cells within the brain. These strokes are called “silent” because they damage areas of the brain that don’t control vital functions, which means seniors don’t have obvious impairments afterward, such as facial drooping or difficulty speaking.
Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional home caregivers who provide high-quality in-home care. Colorado Springs families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Stroke & Vascular Dementia Risk
Along with the subtle memory problems that can result from a silent stroke, someone who experiences multiple silent strokes may also develop something called vascular dementia, a type of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. Vascular dementia causes a progressive decrease in cognitive abilities and memory. Depending on the number and severity of the strokes, this dementia may come on very suddenly or slowly and may be mild or severe.
Vascular disease is a major risk factor for silent strokes, and it’s believed it may also contribute to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are now studying participants over a longer period to determine if seniors who have silent strokes have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
Caregivers should be aware that silent strokes are often a sign a senior is at risk for a more serious stroke and know what outward symptoms indicate a regular stroke. Silent strokes can also occur many times in a short period, which can lead to worsening damage and further memory issues.
Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Colorado Springs, CO, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place. To hire a dedicated caregiver, call Home Care Assistance at (719) 822-1229 today.