Unlocking the path to dementia prevention: New report by Alzheimer’s Disease International

Paola Barbarino, CEO, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI)

A new global report released today highlights the critical importance of addressing dementia risk through lifestyle choices and governmental action. Authored by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), the report, titled “Reducing dementia risk: never too early, never too late,” aims to provide clarity amidst the overwhelming amount of information surrounding dementia and its risk factors.

The report emphasises that taking steps to tackle 12 proven modifiable dementia risk factors can potentially delay, slow progression, or prevent up to 40 per cent of dementia cases globally by 2050. These risk factors include smoking, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, air pollution, head injury, infrequent social contact, less education, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and hearing impairment.

In a recent guest post for Inside Ageing, Paola Barbarino, CEO of Alzheimer’s Disease International, shared the news that 75% of World Health Organisation (WHO) Member States are likely to fail in the establishment of National Dementia Plans by 2025 – a commitment they had made in 2017.

Dame Louise Robinson, co-chair of ADI’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Panel, emphasises that dementia risk can be reduced by targeting lifestyle choices such as exercise, diet, and social connections. Additionally, addressing hearing loss is considered crucial in risk reduction.

The report underscores that dementia can develop for decades before symptoms become apparent, making risk-reduction efforts vital both before and after a diagnosis. Currently, an estimated 55 million people worldwide live with dementia, and there is a misconception that it is a normal part of ageing.

Tackling 12 proven risk factors for dementia could delay, slow progression, or even prevent up to 40 per cent of dementia cases, equating to 55.6 million cases globally by 2050.  


The report also acknowledges regional variations in access to food and cultural considerations. While diets like the Mediterranean or MIND diets are often recommended for brain health, they may not be feasible for everyone due to differences in regional produce and traditions.

Despite recent advances in disease-modifying drugs, the report highlights that prevention and risk reduction remain the most effective tools in the absence of a cure. Dr. Howard Fillit, Chief Science Officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, stresses the significance of delaying disease onset.

ADI’s message is clear: individuals should take ownership of modifiable dementia risk factors in their lives and advocate for government interventions where necessary. The report highlights that awareness and understanding of brain health should begin at a young age and continue after a dementia diagnosis, emphasising that it’s never too early or too late to take action to reduce personal dementia risk.

In a timely message, The World Alzheimer’s Report 2023 offers a comprehensive overview of dementia risk reduction, focusing on practical steps individuals and governments can take to address this global health challenge. By targeting modifiable risk factors and promoting awareness, the report aims to empower individuals and communities to take proactive measures to reduce the burden of dementia.

The full report can be found here


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