Increasing awareness for risk reduction

Over the past ten years, we saw more and more research emerging that identified modifiable risk factors for dementia. It’s fascinating to see this happening, both the individual studies but also the growing consensus and the meta-reviews. Examples are the Blackfriars consensus in 2014 (Lincoln et al., 2014) and the work of the dementia committee of The Lancet (Livingston et al., 2020; Livingston et al., 2017). The latter recommended in 2017 to “be ambitious about prevention” and wrote that up to 30% of future dementia could be avoided if work was done on primary prevention. In their update in 2020, they increased that even to 40%! That is an amazing opportunity, and the reason why the Interdem taskforce on prevention argued that prevention should be on everybody’s agenda (Steyaert et al., 2021).

That is however not going to happen, unless that information about modifiable risk factors reaches the general public, and more specifically those from the age of 40 onwards. As dementia develops “in slow motion”, it is important to target those who are like 20 years younger than the high-risk age groups for dementia.

In Flanders, we organised an awareness campaign September 2018 to March 2019, and in the pre- and post-survey among Flemish citizens aged 40 to 75, the awareness was 34% and increased to 44% (Van Asbroeck et al., 2021). Implying at the time of the post-survey (April 2019), still 56% made no link between dementia risk and brain healthy living.

In May 2022, we launched a new awareness campaign on brain healthy living, stressing the strong link between those modifiable lifestyle factors that are good for the brain, but also good for the heart. This resulted in the campaign slogan: two for the price of one. You invest in brain healthy lifestyle, and you get the cardiovascular health as a free one on top of it.

A short documentary has been made about this new campaign and can be seen (with subtitles) at

The Interdem taskforce on prevention is running a webinar on the topic in late September. See below for more details:

Webinar Interdem taskforce on primary prevention of dementia
Friday 30th September 2022, 11.00-12.30  

11.00-11.10  Welcome & introduction
11.10-11.30  Anne Marie Mork Rokstad: Motivation of elderly citizens in Norway to adapt health behaviour to reduce dementia risk
11.30-11.50  Ana Diaz: Public & people at risk of cognitive decline
11.50-12.00  Questions, discussion
12.00-12.20  Sebastian Kohler & Caroline Smit: Knowledge summaries on risk reduction With special attention to migrants and people in vulnerable positions
12.20-12.30  Looking forward to Interdem & AE conference in Bucharest  

Those who wish to participate can mail to be added to the Teams-meeting.  


Lincoln, P., Fenton, K., Alessi, C., Prince, M., Brayne, C., Wortmann, M., . . . Mwatsama, M. (2014). The Blackfriars Consensus on brain health and dementia. The Lancet, 383(9931), 1805-1806. doi:

Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., Ames, D., Ballard, C., Banerjee, S., . . . Mukadam, N. (2020). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. doi:

Livingston, G., Sommerlad, A., Orgeta, V., Costafreda, S. G., Huntley, J., Ames, D., . . . Mukadam, N. (2017). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care. The Lancet, online. doi:

Steyaert, J., Deckers, K., Smits, C., Fox, C., Thyrian, R., Jeon, Y.-H., . . . Köhler, S. (2021). Putting primary prevention of dementia on everybody’s agenda. Aging & Mental Health, 25(8), 1376-1380. doi:

Van Asbroeck, S., van Boxtel, M., Steyaert, J., Köhler, S., Heger, I., de Vugt, M., . . . Deckers, K. (2021). Increasing knowledge on dementia risk reduction in the general population: results of a public awareness campaign. Preventive medicine, 147.

Written by Jan Steyaert

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