Although everyone living with dementia experiences their own unique journey and set of symptoms, dementia generally causes memory loss, communication difficulties and other cognitive declines that slowly becomes more established over time.

Vascular dementia often arrives suddenly after a cardiac event such as a stroke or heart attack. Other times, vascular dementia is brought on slowly by a lack of oxygen to the brain. No matter what the cause, symptoms develop over a number of years and follow seven distinct stages.

It’s never too late to seek dedicated, one-to-one support to help manage your dementia symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you or a loved one could use support in managing your dementia symptoms and everyday life, our dedicated live-in care for dementia can provide the one-to-one care you need in the comfort of your own home.


  • Stage One: Normal behaviour
  • Stage Two: Mild changes
  • Stage Three: Mild decline
  • Stage Four: Moderate decline
  • Stage Five: Moderately Severe Decline
  • Stage Six: Severe Decline
  • Stage Seven: Very severe decline

The Stages of Vascular Dementia

Stage One: Normal Behaviour

In the initial stage of vascular dementia, people may be unaware of their condition since there are no discernible symptoms causing alarm. Even though no noticeable symptoms are evident during these early stages, significant changes in the brain have already occurred. It is important to note that early-stage dementia can commence several years prior to the onset of any observable symptoms.

Stage Two: Mild Changes

The first symptoms often start to appear during stage two. The first symptom to typically manifest is memory loss. You may notice your loved one struggling to remember words or phrases or becoming increasingly forgetful. At this stage, many symptoms are written off as part of the ageing process when they are actually the second stage of dementia.

Stage Three: Mild Cognitive Decline

In the third stage of vascular dementia, memory loss becomes increasingly worse. The person living with dementia may begin to notice signs that something is not quite right but may be unaware that they are in the early stages of dementia. This stage can last for several years before the dementia progresses into the fourth stage, moderate decline.

Stage Four: Moderate Decline

During the fourth stage of vascular dementia, symptoms become more prominent. This stage is marked by increasing memory loss. Your loved ones may become increasingly forgetful and begin to experience difficulties with day-to-day tasks that they once completed without issue. This often leads people to look for an explanation for their symptoms which leads them to a dementia diagnosis.

Symptoms that are common in this stage include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble organising thoughts
  • Communication difficulties
  • Slowed thinking
  • Memory loss

Stage Five: Moderately Severe Decline

Stage five is marked by a significant decline in cognitive function. Your loved one will likely need daily assistance with personal care, medication management and other aspects of daily life. Although they may still be able to perform many of their usual routines and activities, memory loss and confusion may mean they need reminders to remember to do so.

Stage Six: Severe Decline

During the severe decline stage of vascular dementia, your loved one will need increasing levels of support. Living independently is usually no longer an option at this stage without dedicated care and support. New symptoms such as personality changes, incontinence and difficulty swallowing can occur. Your loved one may still be able to recognise you, but they will likely be living with increasing confusion and disorientation. Caregivers will also need extra support at this stage, as caring for someone with late-stage dementia can be physically and emotionally challenging.

Stage Seven: Very Severe Decline

Very significant cognitive decline occurs during the last stage of dementia. Your loved ones will most likely need round-the-clock care and support to live comfortably and manage symptoms. They may need help with basic activities such as eating and drinking and they may be unable to communicate their needs and wants. In this stage, the focus often shifts to preserving quality of life through pain and symptom management.


Supporting a loved one experiencing symptoms of dementia requires a compassionate and understanding approach. Here are some ways to provide person-centred assistance and care:

  • Educate yourself: Learn about dementia, its symptoms, and its progression. Understanding the condition will enable you to better support and empathise with the person.
  • Maintain open communication: Encourage open and honest communication. Be patient and allow them enough time to express themselves. Use simple and clear language and avoid talking down to them.
  • Create a structured routine: Establishing a consistent daily routine can help provide a sense of stability and reduce confusion. Ensure that activities such as meals, medication, and appointments occur at regular times.
  • Provide a safe and supportive environment: Make the living environment safe and accessible. Remove hazards and install grab bars or handrails where necessary(after consulting with your GP or occupational therapist). Label important items and maintain a clutter-free space.
  • Encourage independence: Support the person’s autonomy as much as possible. Allow them to perform tasks they are still capable of doing independently, providing guidance and assistance only when necessary.
  • Offer memory aids: Use memory aids such as calendars, to-do lists, and reminders to help the person remember important dates, events, and tasks. Consider using technology like smartphones or tablets for digital reminders.
  • Engage in stimulating activities: Encourage participation in activities that stimulate the mind and provide enjoyment. This can include puzzles, hobbies, listening to music, or engaging in light physical exercises.
  • Seek support networks: Connect with support groups or organisations specialising in dementia care. These groups can offer valuable advice, resources, and emotional support for both the person with dementia and their caregivers.
  • Take care of yourself: Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally and physically demanding. Ensure you prioritise self-care, seek respite care when needed, and don’t hesitate to ask for help from other family members or professional caregivers.

Remember: each person’s experience with dementia is unique, so it’s crucial to adapt your approach based on their specific needs and abilities. Providing consistent support, empathy, and patience can significantly improve their well-being and quality of life.


At Oxford Aunts we know how distressing a dementia diagnosis can be for the entire family. You are not alone. We have helped thousands of families just like yours through our compassionate and highly-personalised dementia home care.

With an Oxford Aunts carer, you will be able to live life your way with as much independence as possible. You will receive a tailored plan of care delivered by a compassionate carer on a one-to-one basis – all in the comfort of your own home.

Contact us for a free home assessment. We will meet with you and your family to discuss your care needs and how live-in care can provide the one-to-one dedicated dementia care your loved ones deserve.


Vascular dementia occurs when there is damage to the brain’s blood vessels, leading to impaired cognitive function. It is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia can result from various conditions that affect blood flow to the brain, such as stroke, small vessel disease, or blood vessel blockages. The symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on the location and extent of brain damage but often include memory loss, difficulties with problem-solving, confusion, and changes in behaviour.

The progression of vascular dementia will vary from person to person but it is a progressive condition, meaning that symptoms worsen over time. In some cases, vascular dementia progresses slowly over a period of several years while in others the decline may be more rapid. The progression is often characterised by stepwise deterioration, meaning that symptoms may remain stable for a period and then suddenly worsen after a new vascular event, such as a stroke or mini-stroke.

Risk factors associated with vascular dementia include age, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, smoking, high cholesterol, stroke history, atrial fibrillation, obesity, and a family history of dementia. Advanced age is a significant risk factor, as the likelihood of developing vascular dementia increases with age. Previous strokes or mini-strokes, as well as atrial fibrillation, significantly raise the risk of vascular dementia.


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