Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in the UK after Alzheimer's disease. It is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain. The term dementia is used to describe a set of symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by specific diseases. The diseases include Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.

Someone with dementia may experience loss of memory, mood changes and problems with language, reasoning and decision making.

Vascular dementia affects individuals in a variety ways and the progression of the disease varies from each individual. The onset of symptoms of vascular dementia occur quickly after trauma i.e. after a stroke occurring.

It often follows a stepped progression. This means that symptoms may remain at a similar level for a constant period of time and then the symptoms may rapidly deteriorate. Some symptoms may be similar to those of other types of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. However, people with vascular dementia may particularly experience:

  • Problems with speed of thinking, concentration and communication.
  • Depression and anxiety accompanying the dementia.
  • Symptoms of stoke, such as physical weakness and paralysis.
  • Memory problems (although this may not be the first symptom)

Our Occupational Therapist can help individuals and their families understand the impact of Vascular Dementia on a person's day to day functioning. The main aim of our Occupational Therapy is to keep an individuals as independent as possible. One way in which we can accomplish this is through developing ways to compensate for the limitations and maintain their independence. Our Occupational therapists also have the skills and knowledge to provide advice on ways to modify the environment in order to prevent falls or other injuries from occurring.

Problems associated with Vascular Dementia

Symptoms of Vascular Dementia develop gradually and typically become worse over a number of years. As the symptoms of Vascular Dementia worsen it begins to affect an individual's ability to:

  • Remember things
  • Make decisions
  • Behave appropriately
  • Communicate effectively
  • Wash
  • Dress
  • Drive
  • Cook
  • Clean
  • Climb the stairs

Although the cognitive and functional declines caused by Vascular Dementia are considered irreversible, our Occupational Therapy interventions have been shown to enhance an individual's sense of enjoyment and identity, increase their functional independence, decrease unwanted behaviours and lessen the burden of care felt by caregivers. This is done through various methods for example, adapting the physical environment to maximise function, educating family members on coping skills and de-escalation techniques and through promoting healthy psychosocial functioning.

Our Occupational Therapy interventions are highly effective for individuals with Vascular Dementia as they are individualised and tailored to their specific needs, their specific contexts and the specific stages of their condition. Our Occupational Therapists use their skills and knowledge to address areas of functioning, occupational performance and client and caregiver needs.

How can these difficulties impact on function?

Vascular Dementia impacts greatly on the individual diagnosed and members of their family also. It effects a person's ability to function independently and communicate effectively. Below is a summary of how Vascular Dementia can affect the different aspects of an individual's life:


  • Difficulties expressing emotions appropriately
  • Difficulties washing and dressing independently
  • Difficulties cleaning
  • Difficulties cooking and feeding
  • Forgetfulness
  • Risk of falls
  • Communication difficulties
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulties getting up in the mornings


  • Stigma
  • Unpredictable behaviours
  • Difficulties participating in leisure activities
  • Feelings of depression and stress
  • Organisational difficulties
  • Reduced motivation

What exactly is a Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia is a decline in thinking skills caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain, depriving brain cells of vital oxygen and nutrients.

Inadequate blood flow can damage and eventually kill cells anywhere in the body. The brain has one of the body's richest networks of blood vessels and is especially vulnerable.

In vascular dementia, changes in thinking skills sometimes occur suddenly following strokes that block major brain blood vessel. Thinking problems also may begin as mild changes that worsen gradually as a result of multiple minor strokes or other conditions that affect smaller blood vessel, leading to cumulative damage.

Vascular brain changes often coexist with changes linked to other types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Several studies have found that vascular changes and other brain abnormalities may interact in ways that increase the likelihood of a dementia diagnosis.

Occupational Therapy assessments suitable for Stroke

To ensure our Occupational Therapyis correctly targeted for those with Vascular Dementia our therapists will complete comprehensive assessments. These assessment allow relevant information to be gathered, aiding the development of appropriate treatment plans. Assessments suitable for those with Vascular Dementia include the following:

  • Cognitive assessments
  • Functional assessment
  • Activities of daily living assessments
  • Aids and adaptations assessment
  • Risk assessment

Non-standardised assessmentscan also be carried out with individuals with Vascular Dementia which involve, observing the individual completing a task, or interviewing them and their family members. It is through applying both standardised and non-standardised assessments whereby our Occupational Therapists can gather information that is completely accurate, ensuring treatment plans are truly effective.

Occupational therapy treatment available

Our Occupational Therapy treatments and services enable individuals to engage and participate in everyday living through occupation. Our Occupational Therapists use key enablement skills to help promote the health and well-being of each individual we treat. Our treatments for individuals with Vascular Dementia aim to improve the following:

  • Functional independence
  • Social interaction
  • Safety
  • Behaviour
  • Cognition
  • Improve self-care
  • Mood management abilities

Our Occupational Therapy treatments are specially tailored to each and every individual and have been shown to be extremely effective with a growing body of evidence to support this.


Vascular Dementia is an illness which effects an individual's memory and thinking skills and eventually their ability to carry out the simplest of everyday activities. Our Occupational Therapy endeavours to restore the individual's independence in activities of daily living, skills in functional performance, infuse evidence based practice to ensure that our intervention are effective and beneficial.

Our Occupational therapistsalso have the skills and knowledge to educate family members or others involved about the effects of Vascular Dementia and teach them effective coping strategies.

How to arrange to see an occupational therapist?

If you or a family member would benefit from one of our Occupational Therapy assessments then please feel free to contact us at or Call us on 02033 937 332



London OT offer and provide a range of Occupational Therapy services for individuals with a variety of conditions.

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