8 Brain-Boosting Autumn Activities to Prevent Dementia

activities to prevent dementia

Is there any season as beautiful as autumn? Sure, summer is sublime and spring is the thing (we won’t even mention winter). But there’s something about summer’s graceful decrescendo into a crisp, golden world of harvests and leaves that feels reinvigorating. And opens the door to new activities to prevent dementia.

Fall is a great time to take on new types of recreation. Consider making plans to go pumpkin picking with friends, enjoy some Oktoberfest festivities, or even start reading a new book series. But no matter your autumn aspirations, you can also use this time to invest in your brain health!

Many fall activities are both fun and functional, which is an important step to keeping your mind sharp and your body healthy to prevent dementia.

Dementia affects nearly 5.8 million Americans. Studies show dementia cases are on the rise. While five million Americans were living with dementia in 2014, 14 million are expected to be diagnosed by 2060.

What can I do to prevent dementia?

While these numbers are heartbreaking, there are steps you can take to not become a statistic. Here are eight autumn activities to prevent dementia.

1. Make a fall wreath

OK, you’re not limited to just making a wreath. Any fall-related craft will do. The important step is to take on an activity that’s both tactile and challenging. Wreath making is an excellent example because the process involves the varied textures of silk flowers and greens. There’s also the challenge of creatively composing an item with balanced colors and shapes. Just make sure you have plenty of hot glue sticks on hand!

2. Knit a cozy scarf

Knit, crochet, sew or even cross stitch—whatever you prefer will work! Similar to fall crafts, textile work is tactile and creative. These activities keep your mind agile and help you focus and maintain attention on a task. The bonus here is that with colder weather approaching, whatever cozy craft you create will be useful for winter layering.

3. Put together a puzzle

There are many beautiful autumn puzzles out there—take your pick of Thomas Kincade paintings or dazzling fall photography. Challenge yourself by choosing a puzzle that’s a thousand pieces or more. Doing a large puzzle might take a while, but you’ll be rewarded with hours of enjoyment while promoting brain health.

4. Exercise your brain

Putting together a puzzle is a great way to work out your mind, but they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If puzzles don’t tempt you, there are other ways to exercise your brain. Perhaps a fall crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or even games specifically designed to help with dementia. When in doubt, check out Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store for entertaining brain games you can play on your smartphone.

5. Listen to a marching band

Hear us out on this one! Marching bands at football games are a hallmark of fall—just as hearing loss is for dementia. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, difficulty hearing causes your brain to work harder. As a result, hearing loss is linked to about 8% or 800,000 of the 10 million new dementia cases diagnosed each year. So if you go to your local high school football game and the band isn’t quite as loud as last year, make an appointment for a hearing test to determine if a hearing aid can help.

6. View the fall foliage

Sitting outdoors and enjoying the kaleidoscope of changing colors is a wonderful way to pass the time. Of course, just looking at leaves won’t prevent dementia. But engaging in the activities we mentioned above while getting some sun before winter kicks in, just might. 

7. Join a book club

You don’t have to read alone! If the social scene is your preference, join a book club to read with others, discuss insights into the material, and make meaningful friendships. Forming social connections is another valuable way to prevent dementia. These relationships enhance your cognitive reserve, keeping your brain healthy and lowering your risk for dementia.

8. Take a fall hike

Regular exercise is a proven preventative measure you can take to avoid dementia. And with all the gorgeous vistas outside, who doesn’t want to get out there and enjoy them? (We’ve suggested a few intriguing methods here and here.) Moreover, staying in shape lowers your risk for a host of other chronic health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

Fall for a few of these autumn activities, and enjoy a season to remember!


image credit: Rawpixel.com/shutterstock

Pete Blasi