The In MINDD Concept – Dementia Prevention through Social Innovation

Not many people know that you can greatly decrease your risk of dementia in old age by following a healthy lifestyle in middle age. Cardio-vascular health and fitness, weight, sleep and mood are all modifiable risk factors for dementia. Your risk of old-age dementia can be predicted, and changed, in consultation with your GP.  Risk factors also include: 

Dementia Risk Factors

In MINDD will develop online tools to help primary care practitioners determine the personalised dementia risk profile of their patients and generate personal risk reduction strategies. The project will also help patients follow their personal strategies by creating online social support environments and providing patients with access to expert information. The online tools and support environment will be tested in clinics in Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Scotland. A self-assessment tool to determine personal dementia risk profiles will also be made available online through the project website for members of the general public. Throughout the project, the team will work to communicate the message that dementia risk can and should be modified.

Dementia Information

Dementia FAQs

What is dementia?

Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability beyond what might be expected from normal ageing. It is an umbrella term that is used to describe a group of diseases that have broadly similar symptoms but different causes. The most common symptoms include memory loss, difficulty performing everyday tasks, problems with language and communication, disorientation in time and place, poor or decreased judgement, and changes in mood, behaviour or personality. Of the diseases that cause dementia, the most common are Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Bodies Dementia and Fronto-temporal dementia.

Dementia can be frightening for those affected by it. It also has a profound impact on family and friends. There is a high level of anxiety among the public at large about memory loss and the debilitation associated with dementia makes it the most feared of conditions related to ageing. (1)

1. Desai AK, Grossberg GT & Chibnall JT Healthy brain aging: a road map. Clinics in Ger. Med. 26, 1-16.

How is dementia diagnosed?
Dementia is not diagnosed by a single test. Primary care practitioners, such as a General Practitioner (GP), usually perform a range of assessments and tests to rule out other possible causes for a patient’s symptoms. The primary care practitioner may refer the patient to a specialized consultant, such as a geriatrician, or to a Memory Clinic. Experts agree that early diagnosis is key to prevention and treatment. Link.
What are the known risk factors for dementia?
A number of risk factors are known for dementia:
• Genetic make-up
• Age
• Being overweight
• Consuming a high fat diet
• High cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• Mood problems (depression, sleep problems, stress)
• Alcoholism
• Diabetes
• Smoking
Some of these risk factors, such as genetic make-up or age, cannot be modified. However, many can be modified to reduce an individual’s risk of dementia.
In addition, a number of protective factors are known, including cognitive stimulation, exercise, diet, social health and moderate alcohol consumption.
The scientific evidence tells us that there are factors that appear to protect against dementia, while other factors appear to increase the risk of developing dementia.
Is dementia preventable?

Dementia is incurable, and whilst age and genetics can play a roleinthe development of dementia, in many cases it can be prevented, or the age of onset delayed, by lifestyle interventions. The general public and many primary care practitioners are unaware that the risk of dementia can be reduced and that strategies for promoting long term brain health and reducing dementia risk are well established.

The social innovation challenges addressed by In- MINDD areto:

i.         raise awareness that it is possible to profoundly influence future dementia risk and long term brain health;

ii.         promote individual response through the development of personalised brain health strategies and

iii.         help adherence to lifestyle changeby providing on-line supports and information.

Dementia Facts & Figures


In UK, Dementia Costs more than Heart Disease & Cancer Combined*

• 2010: estimated 35.6 million people worldwide with dementia
• If dementia care were a country it would be the 18th largest economy in the world
• Dementia prevalence is on the rise: estimated 65.7 million people by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050
• Total estimated worldwide costs of dementia for 2010 estimated at $604 billion USD
• total cost of illness of dementia disorders in EU27 in 2008: estimated €160 billion
• total cost of illness of dementia disorders in all of Europe in 2008: estimated €177 billion

From Alzheimer’s Disease International World Alzheimer Report 2010 & Alzheimer Europe*


National, European and Global Dementia Strategies & Initiatives

World Health Organization
Dementia: a public health priority “Research identifying modifiable risk factors of dementia is in its infancy. In the meantime, primary prevention should focus on targets suggested by current evidence. These include countering risk factors for vascular disease, including diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity.”
• Dementia is one of the priority conditions in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP).


European Parliament Resolution on European initiative on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, 19 January 2011 –

  • “prevention of dementia through modifiable interventions should be a priority and particular attention should be given to preventative factors such as a healthy diet, promoting physical and cognitive activity and controlling cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and smoking”
  • “European Union should … adopt in its long-term strategy the policy of firm promotion of the principle of prevention”
  • “Underlines the primality of prevention as well as the relevance of early diagnosis for effective interventions”
  • “at present there is no specific policy on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, and calls, therefore, for the establishment of such a policy, including at European level”
Review of the existing national dementia strategy, published in 2010, is under way (2012/2013)