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Dementia Risk Factors & Social Policy

The National Institute on Aging (NIH) identifies 10 risk factors for dementia that can help individuals be proactive in managing early symptoms and preventing symptoms in their future.

These risk factors are:

  • depression,

  • diabetes,

  • hearing loss,

  • mid-life hypertension,

  • physical inactivity,

  • poor diet quality and obesity,

  • poor sleep quality and sleep disorders,

  • Tobacco use,

  • traumatic brain injury

  • unhealthy alcohol use

(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022).

While some of these factors can be managed by certain individuals, it may take more broad social policy changes to help many. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of social isolation and increased depression for individuals. Currently, hearing aid costs are not covered by Medicare and are not federally mandated for coverage for Medicaid. In being able to provide this service for individuals, we can decrease the amount of individuals suffering from hearing loss but being unable to afford hearing aids. The U.S. Department of Health and human Services (2022) recommends that hearing aids be made available to all as a part of essential healthcare coverage to help support our seniors and reduce the risk of dementia.

Diet and exercise are commonly known to help treat and mitigate all sorts of diseases and disorders. This applies to dementia as well. Research done by Laura Baker, PHD, points to the importance of vigorous aerobic exercise as possibly being the best type of exercise for prevention and management of symptoms. When compared to stretching/less vigorous activities, aerobic is shown to be much more effective (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022). However, it is also known that just telling someone to exercise may not be effective for many people. It is recommended that coaching supports that provide accountability and encouragement be funded to help support people in achieving their fitness goals. Additionally, costs can be a factor for many as well as driving distance. Having low cost and more fitness centers is a recommended social policy change to help fight dementia symptoms. If you are interested in watching the webinar, you can click on the link here: Focus on Aging: Federal Partners’ Webinar Series | National Institute on Aging (

The Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness works to connect caregivers with mental health support through care consultations with our licensed social workers and is able to assist individuals in finding other community resources if needed. Cheryl and Becky are both experts in providing active listening and can assist in helping you with goal planning and connecting you to any community resources that may address the risk reduction factors listed above and more.

We will also be hosting a wonderful speaker for our education session on August 12th from 9-10:30. Dr. Crystalin Montgomery will be speaking about the connection between nutrition and mental health and provide professional advice and tips for caregivers on managing their own mental health through diet and possibly the mental health of their loved ones.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Focus on Aging: Federal Partners' webinar series. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from

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