Experts at the University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London found people the more people engage in crossword puzzles the better their brain function later in life.
Professor Keith Wesnes from the University of Exeter said in a statement: "We found direct relationships between the frequency of word puzzle use and the speed and accuracy of performance on nine cognitive tasks assessing a range of aspects of function, including attention, reasoning and memory.
"Performance was consistently better in those who reported engaging in puzzles and generally improved incrementally with the frequency of puzzle use.
"We now need to follow up this very exciting association in a clinical trial, to establish whether engaging in puzzles results in improvement in brain function."
Researchers analysed data from more than 17,000 healthy people aged 50 and over, submitted in an online trial and presented their findings at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.
From the results, Science Daily reports: "Researchers calculate that people who engage in word puzzles have brain function equivalent to ten years younger than their age."
While the results were promising, more research is still needed.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research of Alzheimer's Society, said: "We know that keeping an active mind can help to reduce decline in thinking skills.
"This new research does reveal a link between word puzzles, like crosswords, and memory and thinking skills, but we can't say definitively that regular 'puzzling' improves these skills.
"To be able to say for sure, the crucial next step is to test if there are benefits in people who take up word puzzles."
As for reducing your risk of developing dementia, Dr Brown recommends "keeping physically active, avoiding smoking and eating a healthy balanced diet."