Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over 12 countries and has many more to go. On some days she can be found tackling a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started exhibiting the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Every day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists think that exercise might stave off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, showed that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to disengage from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have investigated connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
The results were even more significant. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social aspect. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to slip under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.