Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has lots more on her list. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
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 daily tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Individuals 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 experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists think that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that typically happens as a person ages. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain kinds of cells from damage. These protectors may be created at a higher level in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this research focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The connection between cognitive decline and social separation is the focus of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that carried out the cataract study. They used the same methods to test for the advance of mental decline.
They got even more remarkable results. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when a person slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
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.