Vascular dementia is caused by stroke damage in the brain. Modifying your lifestyle and taking steps to improve your mental well-being are common vascular dementia self-care strategies.

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Memory loss and cognitive changes that go beyond what’s expected in aging fall under the broad diagnostic term of “dementia.”

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for as many as 30% of diagnoses. It’s most commonly seen as a part of mixed dementia, memory loss, and cognitive decline occurring from multiple causes.

There’s currently no cure for vascular dementia, but self-care is an important part of treatment that may slow or help prevent further damage to your brain.

Most of the self-care strategies for vascular dementia are the same as those for other types of dementia. But if you have vascular dementia, this means that you have vascular disease, which also requires additional self-care to prevent it from worsening

Vascular dementia develops due to one or more strokes, causing a decline in memory and the ability to think. It can be caused by a variety of conditions that compromise blood vessel health, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Physical self-care for vascular dementia varies based on the underlying cause, but certain lifestyle modifications are universally beneficial.


Regular exercise can help manage factors like body weight that contribute to vascular diseases, but it also directly promotes blood vessel health.

A 2018 review evaluating the direct effect of exercise on vascular health concluded that aerobic exercise could help preserve small blood vessels in the brain and enhance their function, just as it does in other vessels throughout the body.

Exercise also helps maintain physical function for people who have dementia. Often, dementia makes it hard to remember how to do things, and exercise helps maintain your physical coordination and self-care abilities.

Eating a balanced diet

A balanced diet can help improve underlying conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease that can cause vascular dementia.

Different underlying conditions require different dietary approaches, but a handful of plans have been found to help promote optimal brain health in a 2023 review, including:

Dementia can make it difficult to remember to eat regular meals; setting timers or coordinating with others for meals may help you keep to a schedule. It can also be helpful to get a scale that’s easy to read so you can keep your doctor updated on your weight regularly.

Cooking meals can also sometimes be dangerous for those with dementia. You may want to consider meal plan options that are light on prep work and don’t require the use of a knife or hot stove. Many meal kit companies are now on the market, and local community organizations help distribute hot meals as well.

Smoking cessation

The chemicals in cigarette smoke cause swelling and inflammation in the lining of your blood vessels. Over time, this chronic irritation can lead to conditions that may cause vascular dementia.

Stopping smoking has immediate benefits, and within 1 year of quitting, your risk for cardiovascular diseases drops dramatically.

Smoking is also a fire hazard, especially for people who are experiencing memory or coordination problems.

Limiting alcohol

Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with vascular dementia because it increases your risk for conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy.

By lowering your alcohol consumption, you may reduce the damage these conditions cause to your vascular system.

Alcohol can also increase your short-term risk of injury by further impairing your coordination and balance.

Stress relief

Chronic stress not only increases your heart rate and blood pressure, it can create a state of persistent inflammation that damages your blood vessels. It has been known to contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s risk.

Stress relief as vascular dementia self-care can include practices like:

Stress relief is important for physical health, and we’ll look deeper into other strategies in the mental health section as well.

Quality sleep

According to a 2021 nationwide population-based study, experiencing insomnia alongside dementia is associated with higher mortality rates and more long-term care facility admissions.

It’s not always easy to get quality sleep because of dementia’s effects on the brain, but you can improve your chances with sleep hygiene habits such as:

  • avoiding electronics and blue light-emitting devices before bed
  • keeping your sleep area cool, dark, and quiet
  • limiting daytime napping
  • going to bed and waking up at the same time each day

Your mental health when living with vascular dementia is just as important as your physical health. In addition to cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and mood changes are common in dementia.

Brain exercises

Brain exercises have been shown to improve cognitive function among adults with normal cognition, but there’s currently insufficient evidence to prove they can slow or stop dementia-related cognitive decline.

That being said, you can still use mental exercises to keep your current level of function as sharp as possible.

Brain-challenging exercises that test your reasoning, memory, and speed of processing information include:

  • crosswords
  • number puzzles
  • jigsaws
  • memory games
  • speed tests
  • strategy games, like chess

Quality of life strategies

Dementia can feel frustrating and overwhelming, but you can offset some of the negative mental health effects by setting yourself up for success.

Quality of life strategies to lessen dementia’s toll on your day include:

  • creating a written daily plan of chores, meals, recreation, and responsibilities
  • keeping a calendar or notebook with important dates and appointments
  • setting up automated payments
  • utilizing meal planning and delivery services
  • using electronic reminders
  • having a trusted friend or family member help with necessities like transportation

Social support

Staying connected socially when you live with vascular dementia can provide a sense of support and help ward off the effects of isolation. Socializing allows you to enjoy the company of others, and it can also connect you to people who share similar experiences with vascular dementia.

Socializing can be done with family and friends, through support networks, or through spiritual groups.

Your loved ones and community can also provide support with difficult tasks such as:

  • driving to regular doctor appointments
  • managing bills and insurance paperwork
  • commuting to shopping centers or other errands
  • cooking, cleaning, or other work around the house

Speaking with a mental health professional

It’s never too early to speak to a mental health professional.

Not only can they help you develop everyday coping skills, they can help you work through feelings of anxiety, depression, or lost sense of self.

Learn more about how therapy can help those with dementia here.

There’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for how often you should see your doctor when living with vascular dementia.

Your follow-up appointments are scheduled based on your underlying conditions, their progression, your treatment goals, and the severity of dementia symptoms.

Your doctor will recommend a weekly, monthly, or yearly follow-up schedule based on your specific needs.

Vascular dementia self-care involves both physical and mental strategies. Lifestyle changes, social support, and quality of life improvements can all be important parts of care.

If you’ve been diagnosed with vascular dementia, your doctor will recommend targeted self-care approaches based on your underlying conditions and severity of symptoms.