Dancing With The Stars NZ judge Rachel White teaches people with dementia to dance

People with dementia have been 'dancing with the stars' in a special class in Auckland - and getting top marks from one of the judges before Sunday's big final.

Dancing with the Stars NZ judge Rachel White has been teaching a dance class with a difference, helping people with dementia swing their way to better brain health. 

"Those specific parts of the brain that actually lighten up while moving to music physically, and also reacting and making decisions on the spot and constantly learning new things, is apparently what makes us smarter and happier," White told Newshub.

Dancing stimulates the connectivity of the brain and has been proven to help prevent dementia.

"You're thinking abstractly, you're trying to convert a bunch of movements into a flow, you're trying to do it in time to the music," says Dementia NZ CEO Paul Sullivan.

"It's good for you physically, it's good exercise, it's making you think, and it's making you socialise and touch and be involved with another person and all of that is great for your brain health."

Frequent dancing has been found to offer better protection against dementia than reading or crossword puzzles, and they say there is no dementia when you're dancing.

For Martin Francis, and his wife Amrita who has dementia, stepping onto the dance floor is like stepping back in time.

"I've found that... Amrita was just like how we were years ago. She would just get into the flow of things and we're happy, and that's the most important thing I suppose," Francis told Newshub.

"You can start in your 80s, you can start in your 90s, you can start when you're 40." White says. "It actually doesn't make a difference, all that matters is that you have an open mind."

Whether it's foxtrot or freestyle, for a reduced risk of dementia, try waltzing your way to better brain health.

Dementia New Zealand is holding a fundraiser gala ball on Friday 8th November hosted by Mike McRoberts along with DWTS 2018 winner Aaron Gilmore.