Stay sharp

Regularly challenging your brain and taking time for your mental wellbeing can help protect it as you age.

A large study of people over 65 in China showed that those who more regularly read books and newspapers, played board games or card games had a lower risk of dementia.

Researchers think mental activity helps to build a person’s ‘cognitive reserve’. This is a kind of resilience that protects the brain, enabling it to rewire itself by forming new connections between cells when old ones are damaged.

In short, having a high level of cognitive reserve helps the brain to cope and keep working, even in the face of damage from diseases like Alzheimer’s.

So which activities are best for our brain health?

Although understanding is growing all the time, it’s not yet clear which activities are most beneficial.

And activities that some people enjoy - and will therefore do regularly - aren’t for everyone. So the key is to do things you enjoy, whether that’s reading, playing board games, art, learning a new language or something completely different.

Taking time out for hobbies and activities you enjoy can help boost mental wellbeing too. Meaning you're more likely to feel happier, healthier and more relaxed.

Information on this page does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. If you have more questions about dementia and research, our Infoline can help.

Call us on 0300 111 5 111 or find out more online.