Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. 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 on 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.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She started to become forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there confirmed ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Luckily, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Every day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. This same research shows that people who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists believe consistent exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- As a person gets older, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers believe that it could also slow mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
Preserving healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The connection between dementia and social separation is the focus of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract study. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
The results were even more remarkable. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People tend to go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when somebody slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Learn how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.