Social engagement is one habit that could help protect your brain as you age.

Get inspired by a weekly roundup on living well, made simple. Sign up for CNN’s Life, But Better newsletter for information and tools designed to improve your well-being.

CNN  — 

What if you could assess your risk of developing dementia or having a stroke as you age without medical procedures? A new tool named the Brain Care Score, or BCS, may help you do just that while also advising how you can lower your risk, a new study has found.

The 21-point Brain Care Score refers to how a person fares on 12 health-related factors concerning physical, lifestyle and social-emotional components of health, according to the study published December 1 in the journal Frontiers in Neurology. The authors found participants with a higher score had a lower risk of developing dementia or having a stroke later in life.

“Patients and practitioners can start focusing more on improving their BCS today, and the good news is improving on these elements will also provide overall health benefits,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Jonathan Rosand, cofounder of the McCance Center for Brain Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, in a news release.

“The components of the BCS include recommendations found in the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential (8) for cardiovascular health, as well (as) many modifiable risk factors for common cancers,” added Rosand, also the J.P. Kistler Endowed Chair in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “What’s good for the brain is good for the heart and the rest of the body.”

The physical components included blood pressure, cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c and body mass index, while lifestyle factors included nutrition, alcohol consumption, aerobic activities, sleep and smoking. Social-emotional aspects referred to relationships, stress management and meaning in life.

The authors cited “the global brain health crisis” as one of the motivators for their work; in the United States alone, 1 in 7 people have dementia, and every four minutes someone dies from a stroke, according to the study. Prevention efforts can help substantially reduce deaths, but the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8, the authors said, was developed without input from patients.