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12 Modifiable Dementia Risk Factors (Plus, How To Address Them)

Morgan Chamberlain
Author:
February 11, 2023
Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor
By Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition.
Image by ALTO IMAGES / Stocksy
February 11, 2023

Dementia is a growing issue not only in the U.S., but worldwide. Approximately 24 million people1 are affected by dementia globally, and the number of cases is expected to increase by three million in 2023 alone.

While these numbers are shocking (and maybe even a little disheartening), there are lifestyle changes you can make today to help mitigate your risk of developing dementia. In fact, the Lancet has identified 12 modifiable risk factors2 that account for 40% of dementia cases worldwide. 

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12 modifiable risk factors for dementia.

Try implementing lifestyle changes that address one or more of these risk factors to effectively strengthen your cognitive function and promote brain longevity.

Early life:

  • Less education
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Midlife:

  • Hypertension
  • Hearing impairment
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Traumatic brain injury

Later life:

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How to minimize your risk of dementia throughout life.

While all of these risk factors are technically modifiable, there are some that are not as easy for an individual to address (e.g., air pollution if you live in a polluted city and are unable to move, less education if you live in a country that does not mandate public education for certain ages, etc.). 

That said, there are still many things you can do to help address dementia risk factors, such as:

  • Optimize your diet, sleep, and physical activity to maintain healthy blood pressure and a healthy weight.
  • Monitor your alcohol consumption—drinking more than 12 to 14 units (i.e., approximately five to six pints of beer or nine to 10 glasses of wine) of alcohol per week is associated with an increase in dementia risk, according to the Lancet review.
  • Wear a seatbelt in the car while driving and appropriate headgear during high-impact sports (skiing, biking, football, skateboarding, etc.) to protect your head from traumatic brain injury.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Stay physically active throughout the day.
  • Make time to socialize with your friends, family, and members of your community.
  • Reduce your exposure to air pollution and secondhand smoke.
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To further enhance your brain health, you may also want to consider utilizing a nutritional strategy, such as a high-quality memory supplement with science-backed ingredients (like citicoline—a nootropic bioactive that has been clinically shown to help improve cognitive impairment). Additionally, make sure to visit your doctor regularly as you age to monitor changes in your cognitive function.

The takeaway.

Though dementia cases are increasing globally, there are many lifestyle habits you can utilize to reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Try implementing the tips in this article to ensure your brain health is in tiptop shape today and as you age.

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Morgan Chamberlain
Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor

Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.