Before treatment starts, your current and future health and social care needs will be assessed and a care plan drawn up.
This is a way of ensuring you receive the right treatment for your needs. It involves identifying areas where you may need some assistance, such as:
- what support you or your carer need for you to remain as independent as possible – including whether you might need care at home or in a nursing home
- whether there are any changes that need to be made to your home to make it easier to live in
- whether you need any financial assistance
Read more about care plans.
The main aim of treatment for vascular dementia is to treat the underlying cause to help stop the condition getting worse.
This will usually involve making healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
Medication may also be offered to treat the underlying cause of vascular dementia and help stop it getting worse.
- medication for high blood pressure
- statins to treat high cholesterol
- medicines such as aspirin or clopidogrel to reduce the risk of blood clots and further strokes
- anticoagulant medication, such as warfarin, which can also reduce the risk of blood clots and further strokes
- medication for diabetes
An antipsychotic medicine, such as haloperidol, may be given to those showing persistent aggression or extreme distress where there's a risk of harm to themselves or others.
Alzheimer's disease medications such as donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), rivastigmine (Exelon) or memantine aren't used to treat vascular dementia, but may be used in people with a combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Support and other therapies
There are also a number of therapies and practical measures that can help make everyday living easier for someone with dementia.
- occupational therapy to identify problem areas in everyday life, such as getting dressed, and help with working out practical solutions
- speech and language therapy to help improve any communication problems
- physiotherapy to help with movement difficulties
- psychological therapies, such as cognitive stimulation (activities and exercises designed to improve memory, problem-solving skills and language ability)
- relaxation techniques, such as massage and music or dance therapy
- social interaction, leisure activities and other dementia activities, such as memory cafes (drop-in sessions for people with memory problems and their carers to get support and advice)
- home modifications, such as removing loose carpets and potential trip hazards, ensuring the home is well lit, and adding grab bars and handrails
Read more about living well with dementia.
End of life and legal issues
If you've been diagnosed with dementia, you might want to make arrangements for your care that take into account the decline in your mental abilities.
This may include ensuring that your wishes are upheld if you're not able to make decisions for yourself.
You may want to consider:
- drawing up an advance decision, which makes your treatment preferences known in case you're unable to do this in the future
- having a preferred place of care plan, which outlines where you would like to receive treatment
- giving a relative lasting power of attorney, enabling them to make decisions about you if you're unable to