Treatment can help prevent further damage to the brain in people with vascular dementia and may slow down its progression.
But there's currently no cure for the condition or a way to reverse the damage that's already happened.
Before treatment starts, your healthcare team will review your current and future health and social care needs. They will create a care plan to make sure you get the right treatment.
A care plan identifies areas where you may need help, such as:
- support for you or your carer so you can remain as independent as possible, including whether you might need care at home or in a nursing home
- changes that might need to be made to your home so it's easier to live in
A time may come where you are not able to live at home and need a higher level of specialist care. If you need long-term residential care you can apply for financial support to help pay for the cost of care in a nursing home through the Fair Deal scheme.
The main aim of treatment for vascular dementia is to treat the underlying cause. This is to help stop the condition from getting worse.
This will usually involve making healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
Medicines may also be offered to treat the underlying cause of vascular dementia and help stop it from getting worse.
- medicines to treat high blood pressure
- medicines to treat high cholesterol, such as statins
- medicines such as aspirin or clopidogrel to reduce the risk of blood clots and further strokes
- anticoagulant medicines, such as warfarin, which can also reduce the risk of blood clots and further strokes
- medicines to treat diabetes
An antipsychotic medicine may be given to people showing persistent aggression or extreme distress where there's a risk of harm to themselves or others. A consultant psychiatrist should be involved in prescribing this medicine.
Alzheimer's disease medicines, such as donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), rivastigmine (Exelon) or memantine are not used to treat vascular dementia alone. But they may be used in people who have a combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Support and other therapies
There are therapies and things you can do to make everyday living easier for someone with dementia.
- occupational therapy to identify problems in everyday life, such as getting dressed
- speech and language therapy to help improve communication problems
- physiotherapy to help with movement difficulties
- psychological therapies, such as cognitive stimulation to improve memory, problem-solving and language
- relaxation techniques, such as massage, music or dance therapy
- social interaction, leisure activities and other dementia activities
- making changes to your home, such as removing potential trip hazards, making sure the home is well lit, and adding grab bars and handrails
- assistive technologies to support independence, communication and safety. A Memory and Technology Resource Room can help you find assistive technologies that may be helpful for you.
- advice and information from the National Dementia Adviser Service
End of life and legal issues
If you have been diagnosed with dementia, you might want to make arrangements for your care.
This may include making sure that your wishes are upheld if you're not able to make decisions for yourself.
You may want to consider:
- creating 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 get treatment
- giving a relative 'lasting power of attorney', so they can legally make decisions about you if you're unable to
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE