Executive dysfunction is the most important predictor for loss of independence in dementia. As executive function involves the coordination of distributed cerebral functions, executive function requires healthy white matter. However, white matter is highly vulnerable to cerebrovascular insults, with executive dysfunction being a core feature of vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). At the same time, cerebrovascular pathology, white matter disease, and executive dysfunction are all increasingly recognized as features of Alzheimer disease (AD). Recent studies have characterized the crucial role of glial cells in the pathological changes observed in both VCI and AD. In comorbid VCI and AD, the glial cells of the neurovascular unit (NVU) emerge as important therapeutic targets for the preservation of white matter integrity and executive function. Our synthesis from current research identifies dysregulation of the NVU, white matter disease, and executive dysfunction as a fundamental triad that is common to both VCI and AD. Further study of this triad will be critical for advancing the prevention and management of dementia.