How to Prevent Dementia


Dementia is a neuropathological syndrome marked by deteriorating cognitive function beyond what may occur with age. 

It can alter memory, calculation, reasoning, comprehension, thinking, speech, language, learning, orientation, and judgement. It can affect behavioural patterns and emotional control. A common sign of dementia is forgetfulness.

Ageing brings about dementia-like symptoms like forgetfulness; however, it is usually not a cause of concern. Forgetfulness may be due to depression, stress, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies or urinary tract infections. 

Dementia has different forms, with Alzheimer's being the most common. It may also develop due to strokes, excess alcohol consumption, infections such as HIV, mechanical injury and physical trauma to the brain (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) or nutritional deficiencies. Furthermore, dementia can also be due to degeneration of the frontal lobe of the brain or due to Lewy body aggregation (protein accumulation).

Whilst this may sound daunting, do not worry. 

This article aims to provide you with precautionary steps to help prevent certain forms of dementia. 

Signs and Symptoms

Dementia can affect people in different ways, based on underlying diseases and other health conditions. As outlined by the CDC and the NHS, the signs and symptoms of dementia may be divided based on the degrees of progression:

1. The early stages of dementia show signs and symptoms that may go unnoticed due to the onset of its gradual progression. Some of the commonly experienced symptoms include:

  • Not understanding the concept of time
  • Forgetfulness
  • Getting lost in previously familiar places 
  • Difficulty concentrating

2. The middle stage of dementia is marked with more noticeable symptoms. These include:

  • Behavioural changes
  • Repeated questioning
  • Increased problems with communication 
  • Forgetful of events and names
  • Requiring personal care assistance 
  • Confusion
  • Sleep disturbances

3. The later stage of dementia includes more distinctive features, such as total dependency on others, inactivity, memory alterations and other symptoms, including:

  • Problems walking
  • Inability to recognise friends and family
  • Losing track of place and time 
  • Behavioural changes including aggression
  • Increased dependency on others for self-care 
  • Bladder and bowel incontinence 
  • Trouble eating or swallowing food
  • Appetite changes leading to conditions like anorexia

Is Dementia reversible? 

There is no cure for dementia; it is irreversible. It is a neurodegenerative disease (it damages and destroys components involved with the brain and brain cells). However, it is necessary to understand the preventative measures you can take against dementia. 

Dementia has certain predisposing factors such as age and pre-existing conditions (e.g. stroke, diabetes and atherosclerosis). These factors are not preventable; as a result, it is vital to understand the lifestyle factors that may affect the progression and incidence of dementia. 

Familiarising yourself with positive lifestyle changes can help you be better equipped. 

Lifestyle factors

The following lifestyle factors have the most impact on increasing your risk of dementia. We will also look at what you can do to reduce your risk from today.


“You are what you eat” is a common statement researchers and scientists have been discussing in recent history. It is vital to consume a sufficient balance of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Nutrition is also associated with maintaining a general physical and mental well-being and can further aid in weight management. 

Nutritional deficiencies can generally result in dementia. These nutrients usually include thiamine, folic acid and B12 nutrients. Research shows that a Mediterranean diet is beneficial in delivering all the required nutrients. A Mediterranean diet consists of a high fibre content from fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of dairy-based products, legumes, unrefined cereals, regular fish intake and reduced red meat content. 

Additionally, the foods should be appealing in colour, taste and texture; this is important because people with dementia have a high possibility of expressing behavioural changes. Appealing foods, and reference-based healthy modified diets, help tackle this aspect of dementia.1  

Physical activity 

Exercise is a key regulator in maintaining a defence against dementia. It not only promotes a general sense of mental and physical well-being but also helps in improving different functions within the body. 

Research shows that exercise, in particular aerobic exercise, has great effects in preventing dementia, as well as modifying the severity of its progression and expression. It also improves cognitive function in those with diagnosed dementia.2  

Aerobic exercise includes cardiovascular activities such as swimming, sprinting, jogging, weight training, running, cycling and brisk walking. These exercises can improve your energy levels by providing you with quick energy bursts. Cardio based exercises improve body function by keeping the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system healthy. 


Obesity is associated with the incidence of metabolic diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

There is still limited research on the associations between dementia and obesity. However, studies show possible links between the incidence of dementia in overweight individuals due to high levels of interleukin 6, C-reactive protein and leptin. Mitigating these levels can potentially affect dementia.3  

Leptin is a hormone of the adipose cells in the small intestine that relay signals to the brain, thus affecting food intake and energy expenditure. The other proteins are also fat-associated. These levels can increase on account of high calorific content. A high body fat percentage is associated with high levels of these markers. Therefore it is important to be mindful of high-fat foods, high sugar content items, sodium levels and other foods that are unhealthy. Healthier foods, such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes, sports, beans, nuts, plant-based alternatives and fresh foods should be encouraged.


Smoking has a known association with a diseased body state, owing to its harmful effects; brought about by its contents. These include harmful toxins, carcinogens, tar, nicotine, arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and other dangerous chemicals. 

The World Alzheimer Report was indicative of the association between the incidence of dementia and smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of developing other conditions such as lung disease, emphysema, asthma, respiratory problems, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other diseases.4

It is never too late to stop smoking. As it can benefit you, your family and those around you. Passive or second-hand smoke is also dangerous and harmful to those inhaling it, especially those with pre-existing problems. Additionally, vapes or e-cigarettes are no less harmful than cigarettes; any toxin exposure to the body can potentially be problematic. 


Alcohol is known to cause and have harmful effects on the brain and body. Alcohol can cause brain damage and other related disorders that can decrease the quantity and quality of life and often lead to multiorgan dysfunction.5 

Additionally, there is a type of dementia called alcohol-related dementia, brought about by chronic or long term excessive alcohol consumption.3 Research shows that alcohol-related dementia can cause similar symptoms to dementia, including pronounced behavioural changes, acute and/or cognitive impairments, stupor, respiratory depression, tremors, hallucinations, seizures, agitation as well as decreased alertness.6 


Sleep is a key regulator in maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Imbalances in sleep can cause deterioration in sleep-wake rhythms and the degeneration of parts of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex and nerve cells. Research shows that this can contribute to a type of dementia, also known as Alzheimer's Dementia. 

Lack of sleep due to disorders such as sleep apnea and excessive sleep can cause a range of behavioural and cognitive problems.7 It is extremely important to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep, which is undisrupted, to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Mental health 

Dementia is associated with impaired mental abilities and cognitive functions, leading to disruptions in daily life. Research highlights the associations between mental health and dementia incidence. 

Depression is a common symptom of dementia; however, it is also a causative factor of dementia.8 Research around this expresses that late-onset depression has the potential to cause dementia.9 

Studies also show that individuals with depression have a two times higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those without depression.10 

Another study concluded that an episode of depression can increase the potential risk of dementia by a whopping 87-92%.11 This just reiterates the importance of maintaining good mental health and carrying out associated practices and exercises. It might be worth having a chat with a mental health professional, in order to seek help in maintaining a healthy mind. 


Keeping your emotional health balanced is necessary for your physical health. 

Self-care is vital; however, as dementia progresses, the cognitive decline increases. Individuals may not be able to take care of themselves or even comprehend the true meaning of self-help and awareness. 

Maintaining certain healthy balanced practices can aid in leading a healthy life: such as meditation, mindfulness, physical activity and eating healthy. Brain-stimulating exercises such as sudoku and puzzles can also help regulate brain activity. 


Dementia and its associated mental and physical alterations can be overwhelming. However, it is vital to familiarise yourself with this content and look for signs and symptoms that suggest an underlying disorder (such as dementia). It is also important to adopt practices that can potentially mitigate the risk of developing dementia. A healthy mind and a healthy body are the key elements in procuring preventive measures against dementia. These changes are not disruptive and can enhance the quality and quantity of life. 


  1.  Volkert, D., Chourdakis, M., Faxen-Irving, G., Frühwald, T., Landi, F., Suominen, M. H., Vandewoude, M., Wirth, R., & Schneider, S. M. (2015). ESPEN guidelines on nutrition in dementia. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 34(6), 1052–1073.
  2.  Ahlskog, J. E., Geda, Y. E., Graff-Radford, N. R., & Petersen, R. C. (2011). Physical exercise as a preventive or disease-modifying treatment of dementia and brain aging. Mayo Clinic proceedings, 86(9), 876–884.
  3.  Barrett-Connor, E. (2007). An Introduction to Obesity and Dementia. Current Alzheimer Research, 4(2), 97-101. doi: 10.2174/156720507780362074
  4.  International, A., Albanese, E., Guerchet, M., Prince, M., & Prina, M. (2014). World Alzheimer Report 2014: Dementia and risk reduction: An analysis of protective and modifiable risk factors. Retrieved 2 December 2021, from
  5.  Clive, H., The Neuropathology of Alcohol-Related Brain Damage, Alcohol and Alcoholism, Volume 44, Issue 2, March-April 2009, pp. 136–140.
  6.  Ridley, N.J., Draper, B. & Withall, A. Alcohol-related dementia: an update of the evidence. Alz Res Therapy 5, 3 (2013).
  7.  Vaou, O.E., Lin, S.H., Branson, C. et al. Sleep and Dementia. Curr Sleep Medicine Rep 4, 134–142 (2018).
  8.  Nasisi, R.C. Dementia: Psychosocial/Mental Health Risk Factors. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners 16, 6 (2020).
  9.  Kaup, A. R., Byers, A. L., Falvey, C., Simonsick, E. M., Satterfield, S., Ayonayon, H. N. & Yaffe, K. (2016). Trajectories of depressive symptoms in older adults and risk of dementia. JAMA psychiatry, 73(5), 525-531
  10.  Ownby, R. L., Crocco, E., Acevedo, A., John, V., & Loewenstein, D. (2006). Depression and risk for Alzheimer disease: systematic review, meta-analysis, and metaregression analysis. Archives of general psychiatry, 63(5), 530-538
  11.  Dotson, V. M., Beydoun, M. A., & Zonderman, A. B. (2010). Recurrent depressive symptoms and the incidence of dementia and mild cognitive impairment. Neurology, 75(1), 27-34


  1. Dementia. (2021). Retrieved 30 November 2021, from
  2. Symptoms of dementia. (2020). Retrieved 30 November 2021, from
  3. What Is Dementia? | CDC. (2019). Retrieved 30 November 2021, from

Ishana Gole

Master of Science - MS, Bioscience Entrepreneurship, UCL (University College London)
Ishana is a Biomedical Science student with a keen interest in neuroscience and past experience in online consulting, marketing and advertising. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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