Susan always recognized 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 any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
The good news is, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
People who do moderate exercise daily have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. These same studies show that individuals who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers think regular exercise can ward off mental decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from harm. These protectors might be created at a higher level in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut almost in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
While this research concentrated on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have examined connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way into cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
They got even more remarkable results. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People who have untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when a person gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration progressively impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People with untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.