16 Risk Factors That Could Lead to Dementia, Per New Study

Mitigating these risk factors and can help save your memory in the long run. 

Dementia is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with everyday activities, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Over the years, multiple studies have attempted to target why some people lose memory in their older years while others don't. Now, new research released by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) claims to have zeroed in on key risk factors that are within our control that could increase the chances of developing the memory-deteriorating condition. 

1
High Blood Pressure

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The first group of risk factors has to do with cardiovascular health. High blood pressure is one of the conditions you can control with the help of your doctor and changing your health habits. 

2
Obesity

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Another risk factor for dementia is obesity. According to the CDC, obesity prevalence was 41.9% from 2017 to March 2020 – meaning close to one-half of Americans have this risk factor. 

3
Excessive Alcohol Consumption

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It isn't surprising that alcohol impairs memory in the short term. However, according to researchers, drinking too much can increase your chances of long-term memory loss. 

4
Lack of Exercise

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Exercising isn't just about looking good. Sweating on a regular basis and increasing your heart rate is an important aspect of cardiovascular health, and, in turn, impacts your chances of developing dementia. 

5
Exposure to Air Pollution

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Exposure to air pollution impacts heart health. Those who are exposed to more pollutants are more likely to develop dementia. 

6
Diabetes

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Diabetes, clearly linked to heart health, is a sign you could be headed toward dementia. Regulating your blood sugar can eliminate this risk factor. 

7
Repeated Brain Injuries

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Researchers found that repeated head injuries, for example, through football or boxing, also increases dementia risk. 

8
Hearing Loss

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Hearing Loss was another risk factor that researchers identified. They did note that the exact mechanism of how it was related to dementia was unclear, but mitigating with hearing aids could eliminate the risk factor. 

9
Depression

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Are you depressed? If you chronically feel low, you are more likely to end up suffering from dementia. 

10
Lack of Education

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If you need extra motivation to get educated, here it is: A lack of education puts you at risk for dementia, researchers found. 

11
Social Isolation

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Social isolation also makes you more likely to develop dementia. Multiple studies of older people confirm this. 

12
Poor Diet

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A poor diet has been linked to dementia over and over again. The researchers found that one particular category, ultra-processed foods, which contain emulsifiers, preservatives, and artificial flavorings and sweeteners, have been directly linked to cognitive decline. 

13
Untreated Sight Loss

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Untreated sight loss was another factor identified by the ADI report. However, just like hearing loss, exactly how it is connected to the memory deteriorating condition is unknown. They said, similar to hearing loss, the exact mechanism behind how it increased dementia risk was unclear.

14
Losing Teeth

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Losing a tooth was linked to a 1.1 percent increase in dementia risk, and losing 20 of your increased risk to 31 percent. Researchers noted that treating dentures could mitigate risk. 

15
Not Getting Enough Sleep

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Getting a good night's rest was the final of the four factors detailed in the ADI report. Researchers specifically linked sleep problems in middle age to developing dementia later in life. 

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16
Smoking

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Smoking has a lot of bad health implications. Surprisingly, one of them is that it makes you more likely to develop dementia, researchers say.

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