Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the 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 may find her out on the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started showing the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she isn’t 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 prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. Every day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers believe regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system degenerates and consistent 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. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain types of cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher level in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this flow of blood. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this study only focused on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The link between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss 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
You may be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that carried out the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
The results were even more significant. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social component is the first thing. People will often go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Additionally, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
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 reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.