Although the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still not yet fully understood, scientists are starting to gain a greater understanding of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disease. These include age, family history, heart health and lifestyle factors, such as diet or physical activity.1,2
The greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer ’s disease is advancing age. Studies have shown that the occurrence of Alzheimer’s increases from about the age of 65. After age 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly one-third.
People with a first degree relative, such as a parent or a sibling, who has developed Alzheimer’s disease, have an increased risk of developing the disease. This risk is higher if two or more first degree relatives have been affected.
Some of the strongest evidence links your brain health to heart health. Therefore maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels is important, especially if you have cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
RISK FACTORS YOU CAN CHANGE
Although there are no definitive protective factors for dementia, there are several lifestyle factors that could reduce your risk of developing dementia. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity
- Staying mentally active
- Adopting a healthy diet
- Enjoying a socially active lifestyle
- Alzheimer’s New Zealand 2020, ‘The impact of dementia in NZ’, viewed 19th March 2020, https://www.alzheimers.org.nz/our-voice/new-zealand-data
- Alzheimer’s Association 2020, ‘Causes and Risk Factors’, viewed 19th March 2020, https://alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/causes-and-risk-factors