Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than a dozen countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began to show the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. Every 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 get older have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. This same research shows that individuals who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise might stave off mental decline for a number of really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally happens as we get older. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that having cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this research focused on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Additional studies have examined connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that carried out the cataract study. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more remarkable results. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social aspect. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
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 hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.