Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now visited over a dozen countries and has lots more on her list. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother exhibited 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 everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
People who do modest exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already experiencing some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Scientists think that exercise might stave off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that normally occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain kinds of cells from harm. Scientists think that a person who exercises might 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 stops this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is important for cognitive health in general even though this research only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have examined links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more significant. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social element 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.
Additionally, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward 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 examination. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.