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Dementia Risk Factors to Avoid and the Impact of Cognitive Decline on Family Caregivers


There are 6.9 million Americans 65 or older currently living with Alzheimer’s, an increase of about 200,000 cases of the mind-robbing disease from 2023 and it has become a significant public health crisis.

Another 5 million to 7 million adults have mild cognitive impairment, a set of early changes to memory and thinking that is linked to Alzheimer’s, according to an Alzheimer’s Association’s annual facts and figures report.

The cost of care for the Alzheimer’s patients alone is projected to hit $360 billion in 2024. That is an increase of $15 billion from last year.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has also reported that, according to the latest evidence, up to 40% of dementia cases globally could be prevented or delayed by addressing 12 risk factors in out day-to-day lives.

The 12 risk factors are:

  • Air pollution
  • Low education
  • Hearing loss
  • Smoking
  • Social isolation
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Unmanaged high blood pressure
  • Low physical activity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes


And beyond those big numbers, many millions of family caregivers attending to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline are also at substantial risk for diseases and even for premature death. Hence they need to attend to their own physical and mental health lest they die before their loved ones.

Other stressors for caregivers include things that sound simple enough but in reality these tasks can become overwhelming: coordinating with multiple doctors; making appointments; being able to take breaks, and finding doctors.

The 2024 report also showed caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients reported higher instances of work-related changes compared to other kinds of caregivers. 57% of Alzheimer’s caregivers reported going in late or leaving work early to provide care compared to 47% of other caregivers. 9% reported quitting their jobs entirely to provide care, compared to 5% of other caregivers.

And one of the main takeaways from this year’s special report is that dementia caregivers want and need help navigating the complex health care system and accessing community-based services.


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