•  The strongest risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Family History:

  • People with a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s disease have a 10 to 30 percent increased risk of developing the disorder.
  • The risk of AD is lower if a family member developed AD after the age of 85 years old.
  • The highest risk of AD is when the relatives are younger at the age of onset.


  • Certain genes can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most well-known is the ApoE4. Everyone receives one ApoE from each parent (either an E2, E3, or E4), so we all have two.  But only 25% of people have one copy of the E4, and only 2-3% carry two copies (ApoE4/4).  Although inheriting one or two copies of the ApoE4 does not mean a person will develop the disease, it makes it more likely.

Vascular disease:

  • Risk factors commonly linked to heart attacks and stroke have also been linked to the development of vascular dementia and, also, Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Blood vessel narrowing is associated with increased risk of vascular disease due to a long history of either high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, tobacco smoking, chronic kidney disease, sleep apnea, and/or obesity.
  • Aggressive treatment of these conditions is recommended.


  • Chronic depression and anxiety are linked to cognitive decline.
  • Aggressive treatment of these conditions is recommended as it can reverse dementia if due to these conditions alone.

Lifestyle and Activity:

  • Socializing and remaining mentally active reduces the risk of dementia.
  • Physical activity, especially regular aerobic exercise, can be protective against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Higher education is linked with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline, Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s Disease Statistics Washington