The conversations of life

Do you know what the lifestyle risk factors for dementia are?


If you can’t name any, you’re not alone – a recent survey in the UK found only 2 per cent of people could identify the top six health and lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of getting dementia.

Over a quarter (28 per cent) of the 2,176 respondents couldn’t identify any, according to the 2015 British Social Attitudes survey by Public Health England (PHE).

That’s despite growing evidence up to one-third of dementia cases could be the result of preventable causes.

The six easiest to identify factors for dementia include heavy drinking, smoking, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and not enough exercise.

The lowest levels of knowledge related to high blood pressure and diabetes, with only 15 per cent of respondents knowing high blood pressure increases the chances of getting dementia and just 14 per cent for diabetes.

Dementia not a normal part of ageing

dementia-4Troublingly, 33 per cent of those aged 65 and over also wrongly believed that there was nothing anyone can do to reduce their risks of getting dementia.

Not only can you do something about lowering the risks, only a quarter of men and a third of women of 85 actually develop dementia as you will see from our graph above. It doesn’t mean it will be your fate.

“Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing,” Dr Charles Alessi, Senior Dementia Advisor at PHE, said. “What’s good for the heart is good for the brain and simple steps like giving up smoking, reducing alcohol intake, losing weight and taking regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing dementia in the future.”

Will you get dementia? Over 350,000 people are already living with dementia in Australia and the number of people with dementia expected to climb to almost 900,000 by 2050. We need to educate ourselves now if we want to change these rates in the future.

You can learn more about reducing your risk of dementia at Alzheimer’s Australia’s Your Brain Matters site here.

A practising aged care physiotherapist for the past 13 years, Jill has worked in more than 50 metropolitan and regional aged care homes. She has also toured care facilities across the US and Africa. She is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff that serve them.

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