Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would after retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning many more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could completely change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
The good news is, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. Every day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. This same research shows that individuals who are already experiencing some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that normally occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors might be created at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, revealed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this research concentrated on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Further studies have examined connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more remarkable results. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social element. Individuals who are dealing with neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when somebody gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration gradually affects 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 untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
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 schedule a visit with us. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.