Step 3 - Mentally challenge your brain
What about brain training games?
There is a number of brain training games available on the market. Some of these have been shown to lead to some improvements in the brain functions they were designed to train. However, they have not yet been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.
Keeping your brain active is important to keep it functioning well.
Scientists have found that challenging the brain with new activities helps to build new brain cells and strengthen connections between them. This helps to give the brain more 'reserve' or 'back up' so that it can cope better and keep working properly if any brain cells are damaged or die.
Mental exercise may also protect against accumulation of damaging proteins in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
As we grow older we tend to prefer doing the things we've always done, tasks that we are familiar with - and that's understandable - but the brain benefits by having to tackle something it doesn't know.
It could be learning a new language, taking up a new sport, doing a course in something you're always wanted to do - anything really, as long as it's learning something new. Challenge yourself often and keep learning new things throughout life.
Higher levels of mental activity throughout life are consistently associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Importantly for older or retired people, increased complex mental activity in later life is associated with a lower dementia risk, which is good news for those who are able to work beyond retirement age.