Q Should I take a test for Alzheimer’s disease? My mother is in her 70s and developed Alzheimer’s two years ago, and my sister and I, both in our 50s, are worried we might get it, too. It is possible to test it. But will this be enough to determine if it’s true or false?

It is a serious concern that dementia is the leading cause of death for women in the UK.

When you have it in your family or, like me, reach a certain age and start to wonder if you’re becoming forgetful and your brain is slowing down, it can be worrying. So I was interested to read recently about a new test that can predict your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a common form of dementia.

An anonymous woman, who lives in the UK, asked Clare Bailey if she should take a test for Alzheimer's disease (file image)

An anonymous woman, who lives in the UK, asked Clare Bailey if she should take a test for Alzheimer’s disease (file image)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, in the U.S., have identified 16 proteins in the blood which they say predict Alzheimer’s risk up to 20 years in advance of a person developing it.

Preventing or treating Alzheimer’s before it develops is one of the Holy Grails of neuroscience, because once it takes hold, there is no medical treatment that can stop it.

This test isn’t available yet, but there is another genetic test that can assess your Alzheimer’s risk. It’s not routinely used in the NHS, but is available online, via 23andme.com. It is important to think about what you will feel if you are at higher risk. Will you tell your family?

My husband Michael took this test a few years ago and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the result. Thankfully, it turned out he didn’t have a higher risk.

Instead of focusing on your genetic susceptibility, I’d advise you both to think about lifestyle factors that increase your risk, since you can do something about these. They include diabetes, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and poor diet (no wonder Alzheimer’s is often referred to as type 3 diabetes). You can make better lifestyle choices if you act quickly. Here’s what I suggest:

Clare (pictured) advised the reader to think about lifestyle factors that could increase her risk of developing Alzheimer's disease

Clare (pictured) advised the reader to think about lifestyle factors that could increase her risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease


Face-to-face Christmas celebrations are better than any online contact. But for many, that’s not an option. Two of our children are abroad this year, so we will miss them. It’s possible to let people know you care by calling and letting them know. This boosts the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, and decreases stress hormone cortisol. A university study found that women who had a mother’s phone call produced the same amount of oxytocin as those who got comforted with physical contact. Get on the phone. 

1. Sugary and ultra-processed foods that clog your arteries, increase your blood sugars and kill off the ‘good’ microbes in your gut which reduce inflammation.

2.Limit alcohol intake to 14 units per week

3.Stop smoking. Now.


1.Regular exercise is important, especially high-intensity interval exercise. HIIT (short bouts of intense exercise) is a term that describes this type of exercise.

2.Mediterranean food is high in nutrients, healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. It also includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. Include gut-friendly fermented foods like sauerkraut and live yoghurts.

3. A healthy weight is important. Intermittent fasting can be done for between 12 and 14 hours over the night, or 800 calories per day once or twice weekly.

4. You can age-proof your brain by learning a new skill, such as language or enrolling in dance classes.

5. Manage stress. Get a good night’s sleep and practise meditation. Your doctor should be consulted if your forgetfulness becomes more severe.


‘Sit less and stand more’ is a good mantra to abide by over Christmas. One study compared women’s metabolic responses to either exercising, standing more or being sedentary. The exercise group showed a 20% improvement. The sitting less group saw a 13% improvement over the people who sat longer. It makes a big difference to get up from the couch and not sit down in front of the television.

Clare can be reached at drclarebailey@dailymail.co.uk Daily Mail, Northcliffe House 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT .