Helping primary care to support people with dementia

Am I at risk of developing dementia?

January 16 2014

This factsheet published by the Alzheimer’s Society explains what we know about the risks associated with developing different types of dementia, and gives some advice on the steps people can take to reduce their risk.

Download Am I at risk of developing dementia?

Medical conditions

Conditions that affect the heart, arteries or blood circulation all significantly affect a person’s chances of developing dementia, particularly vascular dementia. These conditions include diabetes, mid-life high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels, mid-life obesity, heart problems and stroke.

People who experience depression in later life or have a history of depression are significantly more likely to develop dementia.

Other medical conditions that can increase a person’s chances of developing dementia include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease and HIV. Down’s syndrome and some other learning disabilities also increase a person’s risk of dementia.


There is now a sufficient amount of research evidence that the following lifestyle approaches can reduce the risk of an individual (or a population if undertaken on a bigger scale) developing dementia later in life.

  • Getting into the habit of taking regular, daily, short periods of exercise such as a 15 minute walk.
  • Making small steps to lose some weight and thereby also reduce your risk of diabetes (or helping you manage diabetes if you are already diagnosed).
  • Looking after your mental health and seeking help promptly if you feel depressed.
  • Seek advice from your GP if you don’t feel refreshed after a nights sleep, especially if you snore and/or are overweight.
  • Eating a diet which is good for your heart (what’s good for your heart is good for your brain).
  • Stopping smoking using whichever local support network or medication which suits you best.
  • Reducing your alcohol intake to a maximum of 14units per week (moderate intake) Drink Aware unit calculator

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