Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Scientists think that exercise might stave off mental decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that commonly occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so researchers believe that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from harm. These protectors may be created at a higher rate in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have examined links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you might be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more impressive results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. 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.
The social component is the first thing. Individuals who have neglected hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.