Disease and risk factors you can’t control

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia – brain disorders that affect your ability to function effectively in daily living. Well-established risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are genetics and aging (10 percent of those over age 65 and 50 percent of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s). Unfortunately, aging and genetics are two risk factors you can’t control.

It’s not known what causes Alzheimer’s disease or what role genetics plays in most cases of Alzheimer’s, though having parents or siblings with the disease increases your risk. A small percentage of cases is known to be caused by inherited mutated genes. In other cases, variants of specific genes increase risk, but even people who inherit such variants from both parents still may not get the disease. These risk factors that you cannot change will set a starting point for you, but there is hope that adopting the Maintain Your Brain® life habits might delay or prevent the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Head first
    Good health starts with your brain. It's one of the most vital body organs, and it needs care and maintenance.
  2. Take brain health to heart
    What's good for the heart is good for the brain. Do something every day to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke – all of which can increase your risk of Alzheimer's.
  3. Your numbers count
    Keep your body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels within recommended ranges.
  4. Feed your brain
    Eat less fat and more antioxidant-rich foods.
  5. Work your body
    Physical exercise keeps the blood flowing and may encourage new brain cells. Do what you can – like walking 30 minutes a day – to keep both body and mind active.
  6. Jog your mind
    Keeping your brain active and engaged increases its vitality and builds reserves of brain cells and connections. Read, write, play games, learn new things, do crossword puzzles.
  7. Connect with others
    Leisure activities that combine physical, mental and social elements may be most likely to prevent dementia. Be social, converse, volunteer, join a club or take a class.
  8. Heads up! Protect your brain
    Take precautions against head injuries. Use your car seat belts; unclutter your house to avoid falls; and wear a helmet when cycling.
  9. Use your head
    Avoid unhealthy habits. Don’t smoke, drink excessive alcohol or use street drugs.
  10. Think ahead - start today!
    You can do something today to protect your tomorrow.

More Information

Read more about Maintain Your Brain.