Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days you’ll find her investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. 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 around Susan’s age. 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’s becoming forgetful. 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 stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is she doing 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. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. Each day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
People who do moderate exercise every day have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists believe that exercise may ward off mental decline for a number of very important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally happens as a person ages. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
The rate of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this study only focused on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have explored links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the advance of cognitive decline.
The results were even more significant. The people 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.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. People who have untreated hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social clubs and events.
Also, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person 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 neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
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 make an appointment with us. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.