These are the biggest risk factors for dementia

This week it’s Dementia Action Week, and Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging everyone to start a conversation. Two-thirds of people living with dementia say that they feel isolated or lonely, but a listening ear can make all the difference.

You might not know that dementia is actually the number one killer in the UK, with currently 850,000 people being affected by the disease. Dementia Action Week coincides with a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the condition.

A review of existing evidence found that age was the strongest risk factor for dementia, but that there were other factors which we can control that were also significant factors.

WHO has shared a list of 12 risk factors, to help make people more aware.

Dementia currently affects 50 million people worldwide, and the organisation have warned that this is likely to triple by the year 2050.

What are the 12 main risk factors which can increase your risk of getting dementia?

  • Physical inactivity
  • Tobacco use / smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Harmful use of alcohol
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Mental inactivity
  • Hearing loss
  • Diabetes

The good thing is that many of these risk factors can be tackled with lifestyle changes, however, Dr Carol Routledge, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, noted that some people will still be diagnosed.

“Sadly, there will always be individuals who address many or all of these risk factors and still develop dementia,” she said.

“Genetic predisposition plays an important role in many people’s risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s, and while we cannot change the genes we inherit, taking steps outlines in this report can still help to stack the odds in our favour.”


Text references

Campbell, D. (2019). Number of people with dementia living alone predicted to double. Accessible: Last Accessed: 20 May 2019.

Moss, R. (2019). Biggest risk factors for dementia (and what you can do to combat them). Accessible:

Prestidge, J. (2019). Jeff Prestidge: Dementia is a cruel and wicked illness. Accessible: Last Accessed: 20 May 2019.