Brain Health and Wellness & Primary Level of Risk Reduction

Using a public health framework to address Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD), the Idaho ADRD Program encourages providers to consider and promote efforts that address primary, secondary, and tertiary risk reduction of ADRD.

As recipients of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) BOLD funding, Idaho and you, as a provider, have access to three national centers of excellence. The centers provide research, resources, collaborative opportunities, and support to Idaho. Those centers are BOLD Center of Excellence for Dementia Caregiving, BOLD Center of Excellence for Early Detection of Dementia, and BOLD Center of Excellence for Dementia Risk Reduction. The centers provide research, resources, collaborative opportunities, and support to Idaho. If you are interested in any of these opportunities or would like to get connected, please contact the Idaho ADRD Program (

Primary Level of Risk Reduction

Primary level of risk reduction refers to promoting brain health and wellness for individuals across the lifespan, including youth, well before the development of any ADRD symptoms. There are 12 modifiable risk factors that may reduce the risk of dementia and slow its progression (see Table 1). Empower Idahoans of all ages by educating them on the lifestyle choices they can control, and making referrals, when appropriate, so they can start taking steps to improve brain health and wellness. 

Visit the Alzheimer's Association Risk Reduction website for summaries and videos on the evidence behind various modifiable risk factors, prevalence of risk factors for dementia in the U.S., and additional featured resources.

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Brain Health for Youth
Order free "Noggin" brain health rack cards to share with youth to learn about the importance of keeping their brains healthy!
Modifiable Risk Factors

Table 1 displays potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia.. It is important to encourage healthy lifestyle choices to promote brain health and wellness in your patients who are in early-life to have the greatest impact on the reduction of dementia risk; however, it is still essential to promote healthy behavior changes at any age or stage of diseases process. 

Table 1: Specific potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia

Less EducationObesityUnmanaged HypertensionExcess Alcohol Consumption*
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Unaddressed Hearing LossUnmanaged DiabetesSocial Isolation
Unmanaged DepressionPhysical InactivitySmokingAir Pollution


*Excess alcohol consumption (or any alcohol consumption for brains 25 years of age and younger)

Resource: Livingston, G, Huntley, J, Sommerlad, A, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. 2020;396(10248):413-446.

Brain Health and Wellness Provider Resources

Brain Injury

It is important for youth (and adults) to avoid concussions (mild Traumatic Brain Injury [mTBI]) or repeated head impacts that can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). As a healthcare professional, you can help educate youth and parents about brain injury risk and signs and symptoms associated with brain injuries. 

  • HEADS UP is a free online training developed by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics that is designed for healthcare providers to learn steps to improve the care of your pediatric patients with mTBI. 
  • The Idaho High School Activities Association, in accordance to Idaho Code Section 33-1625, has provided information for coaches, parents, and athletes concerning the identification and management of concussions. 
  • Find TBI and concussion tools for providers, materials for your patients, and expert commentary videos by visiting this CDC webpage.
  • The CDC Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) Guideline helps healthcare providers manage mTBI in their pediatric patients. The guideline consists of 19 sets of clinical recommendations that cover diagnosis, prognosis, and management and treatment. These recommendations are for healthcare providers working in inpatient, emergency, primary, and outpatient care settings. 
Cardiovascular Disease
Formal Education

Evidence has shown that formal education, like high school and college, may reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It is believed the intense, structured learning obtained through formal education could increase “cognitive reserve,” which is the brain’s ability to resist and compensate for damage. A person with high cognitive reserve could be better positioned to deal with the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s in the brain than someone with lower reserve. 

Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • Several organizations have published practice guidelines, recommendations, policy statements, and educational materials for clinicians related to sleep health and sleep disorders. Check it out by visiting this webpage:  CDC Sleep and Sleep Disorders For Clinicians.
  • The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project hosts the Sleep Education Resources for Health Care Professionals website that equips providers with tools and resources to promote healthy sleep and screen for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Funded by the CDC, the project is led by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in collaboration with the Sleep Research Society and other partners.
  • Healthcare providers can play a key role in decreasing cigarette smoking, the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Learn more by visiting this webpage: CDC Tips from Former Smokers: HealthCare Providers: Tools and Resources.
  • Getting Candid: Framing the Conversation Around Youth Substance Use Prevention - A Message Guide for Providers equips providers with substance use prevention messaging and shares guidance on how to effectively deploy this messaging with middle and high school age youth.
  • Project Filter is Idaho's tobacco prevention and cessation program that offers free resources and support to help people quit smoking, vaping and chewing. Project Filter offers free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) in the form of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges, to help people on their journey to quit commercial tobacco. Project Filter works closely with local public health districts all over the state to ensure free tobacco cessation resources and classes are available to people across Idaho. 
  • Smokefree Teen is a resource to share with young people who you know may be smoking.