Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than a dozen countries and has lots more to go. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could completely change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began exhibiting the first signs of mental decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently 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 sure that will be 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 discovered that she’s already on the right track. Each day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may stave off mental decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that ordinarily occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so researchers think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
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 subjects.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have investigated links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way to mental decline. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same manner.
The results were even more remarkable. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social component is the first thing. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when a person 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.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.