Reducing your risk of dementia

Learn how to reduce your risk of developing dementia by addressing lifestyle factors and common medical conditions. Get help understanding your risk.

As a person ages, changes often occur within the brain that may influence memory and other cognitive abilities. A large amount of research suggests that a healthy lifestyle and attention to common medical conditions may reduce the risk of developing more serious memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Scientists have speculated that up to 40% of dementia cases might be preventable by addressing various risk factors.

Researchers are working to determine the causes of progressive memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Certain genetic risk factors have been identified. For example, if you have a parent or sibling diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, your risk for dementia may be double that of a person without a first-degree relative with dementia.

Although we cannot change our genes, fortunately, there are risk factors you can control. Addressing these risk factors can improve cognitive function and brain health while reducing a person’s risk for dementia and serious cognitive decline.

  • Increase physical activity and exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Avoid social isolation
  • Continue learning new knowledge and skills
  • Avoid air pollution

Norton Neuroscience Institute Dementia Prevention Clinic

The Norton Neuroscience Institute Dementia Prevention Clinic is located in Norton Medical Plaza III ­– Brownsboro, on the campus of Norton Brownsboro Hospital. The clinic, which is part of Norton Neuroscience Institute Memory Center, is available if you are interested in learning about your risk of developing dementia and ways to help prevent or delay a memory disorder.

What to expect during your visit

  • You will have a two-hour initial consultation with a provider to review your personal history and dementia risk factors, followed by an in-depth cognitive assessment. Lab work will be ordered if you have not had bloodwork within the past year. You may opt for an MRI as well.
  • Four weeks after your initial visit, you will have a one-hour follow-up with a provider to discuss your assessment results and develop a tailored treatment plan, if needed, along with lifestyle recommendations.

Several conditions, if left untreated, can lead to impaired brain function and increase the risk of dementia.

“There’s an increasing body of evidence that addressing multiple factors under our control can meaningfully reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia,” said Kenneth Gregory Pugh, M.D., a geriatrician who specializes in dementia and cognitive disorders at Norton Neuroscience Institute Memory Center.

Research opportunities are available to help you understand your risk. Participation varies, from online surveys to clinical trials of innovative medications. Learn more about research opportunities at

Types of memory loss

There are various types of memory loss in addition to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While dementia disproportionately affects older adults, it is not a normal part of aging. Healthy aging can mean it takes you longer to process thoughts, and doing multiple things at the same time (multitasking) may become more difficult. But even with aging, routine memory, skills and knowledge should not deteriorate — and sometimes actually improve with age. Forgetting names or where you left your phone is normal. Storing your phone in the freezer would be cause for concern.

  • Subjective cognitive impairment is when an individual noticesworsening of thinking abilities, including memory, but the decline cannot be verified by standard memory and cognitive tests.
  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) describes memory or thinking issues greater than what would be typical for your age. With MCI, however, you remain independent, able to take care of yourself and carry out normal daily activities.
  • Dementia is characterized by progressive or persistent loss of intellectual functioning, especially impairment of memory, abstract thinking and language. It often is accompanied by changes in mood or personality. This is due to pathologic changes occurring within the brain. The most common forms of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, among others. Dementia results in the inability to perform normal daily activities required to remain independent.

Schedule an Appointment

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