Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has lots more to go. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
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 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 taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. 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. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
People who do modest exercise every day have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. These same studies show that people who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise may ward off mental decline for numerous very important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this study focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from activities they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
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 preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same way.
They got even more remarkable results. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
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 socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when a person slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People who have untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.