Illustration: Chris Gash

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3. Train Your Brain Wisely

Puzzles like Sudoku were once counted among the savviest ways to stay mentally nimble. But research on brain training has been inconsistent and inconclusive. "These games tap only a very narrow component of your brain," says Sherzai. Much more effective, he says, is to focus on activities that use a complex array of mental processes. Research indicates that one way to strengthen your cognitive abilities is to continually learn and do new things, which may help build and fortify the neural connections that can slow brain aging. Strategic ways to expand your horizons:

Start a bucket list of hobbies. Worry less about what you're good at and focus more on something you've always wanted to try. Learn to tango, write a haiku, make your own jewelry—whatever you're curious about.

Set a timer. To potentially lower your risk of dementia, aim to spend at least an hour each day on mentally stimulating activities, advises a 2010 study.

Make it a party. Social connections can help build new brain cells and neural networks, says Sherzai. Who's up for a paint-and-sip class?

Speaking of social connection, click to the next slide to learn about the innovative ways for patients and caregivers to connect to their communities.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.