Our brains are the control centers of our bodies. The brain sends signals through channels throughout our bodies that help us speak, move, and think. As our bodies age, changes occur in our muscles, joints, and even our brain. Dementia is a progressive disease that causes damage to the channels in the brain over time, making it hard for these signals to get to the right places. For people with dementia, that means memory and cognitive function become difficult.

Chances are you know the importance of physical activity for maintaining health. Light exercises like walking, stretching, or swimming can help keep muscles and joints strong. Exercising and maintaining the health of the brain is just as important as exercising the body. Keeping your brain active may help you be more resilient to the early stages of dementia. Here are 5 ways to work your brain and prevent early signs of dementia:

  1. Study a Foreign Language

According to research published by the Alzheimer’s Society, learning a new language can help increase resilience to dementia. Researchers theorize that learning many languages requires the brain to generate new brain cells, which strengthens its function. These scientists also say that a person who is bilingual is more likely to develop dementia symptoms later, as much as 5 years after people who speak just one language.

  1. Keep Up a Social Lifestyle

Just like exercising our bodies helps to keep muscles and joints strong, keeping our brains active help maintain its health. Social interaction keeps current brain cells active and encourages new ones to grow. Learning new things, exchanging information, or simply chatting helps the brains stay active as well as reduce depression and anxiety.

  1. Try New Things

Challenge your brain by doing puzzles, learning to knit, or taking a class. Developing new skills forces your brain to grow new cells in order to store all the information you’re taking in. Just doing something out of the ordinary like taking a new route home from work or brushing your hair with your non-dominant hand changes the way connections are made in the brain.

  1. Practice Healthy Eating & Exercise

Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet will contribute to a healthy brain that can ward off early signs of dementia. Find time to exercise, interact with friends, and get a full night’s rest. Keeping up with things you love will promote brain health and overall happiness.

  1. Explore More

Remain curious about the world around you. Similarly to learning new skills, looking for new and interesting things to do in your daily life will help keep your brain active. Consider taking a music class, going to a craft show, volunteering at the pet shelter, or joining a book club.

These things are just a few examples of how you can keep your brain active, engaged, and growing. Living a happy, healthy lifestyle is the key to enjoying your senior years.