Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of mental decline.
Scientists believe that exercise might ward off mental decline for several very important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be created at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The occurrence 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 people.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for cognitive health in general even though this study only focused on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more impressive results. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social factor. Individuals who are dealing with neglected hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
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 how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.