Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could completely change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. 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 started to become forgetful. Eventually, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother experienced. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Fortunately, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Individuals who do modest exercise daily 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 mental decline.
Here are a number of reasons why researchers think regular exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this flow of blood. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
Preserving healthy eyesight is important for cognitive health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The connection between dementia and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same manner.
The results were even more impressive. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social element. People will often go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
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 deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to start to slip under these conditions.
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 call us for a hearing examination. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.