Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now visited over 12 countries and has many more on her list. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, discovering 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 in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
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 day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother went through. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
The good news is, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists think that exercise may stave off mental decline for a number of really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that ordinarily occurs as a person ages. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprotection factors may be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors may be created at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this research only focused on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People often begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between dementia and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.
The results were even more significant. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social component. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when someone gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these conditions.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing examination. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.