Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has many more on her list. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could completely change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began exhibiting the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there established 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 discovered that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
Individuals who do modest exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows 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 several very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that commonly happens as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain kinds of cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher level in individuals who get enough exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this flow of blood. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Concerns
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 people.
While this study focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to disengage from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Additional studies have examined connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you might be on your way into mental decline. The same researchers in 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.
The results were even more remarkable. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social element is the first thing. People tend to go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
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.
As a matter of 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 individuals with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing examination. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.