A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of developing a condition. The diseases that cause dementia are complex, and there is still a lot to learn about the risk factors.

In most cases, it is likely that our age, genes, medical history and lifestyle all contribute to our risk of dementia.  The biggest risk factor for dementia is age and the older you are the more likely you are to develop the condition, but it is not an inevitable part of ageing.

Page last reviewed: 05/07/2018

Source: Reducing your risk of dementia health information booklet by Alzheimer’s Research UK and Public Health England

Source: YouGov polling for Alzheimer’s Research UK 24th – 25th February 2016

Source: Norton, S et al (2014); Potential for primary prevention of Alzheimer’s disease: an analysis of population-based data. The Lancet Neurology Vol. 13 No. 8, p788-794

Source: Norton, S et al (2014); Potential for primary prevention of Alzheimer’s disease: an analysis of population-based data. The Lancet Neurology Vol. 13 No. 8, p788-794

This graph shows the percentage of each age group estimated to have dementia.

This is the clearest representation of the effect of age on the risk of developing dementia. However, improving your health in mid-life (40s and 50s) and staying active can reduce the effect of other risk factors.

Source: Prince, M et al (2014) Dementia UK: Update Second Edition report produced by King’s College London and the London School of Economics for the Alzheimer’s Society