Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has lots more on her list. On some days you’ll find her tackling 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.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Individuals who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. This same research shows that people who are already coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists believe regular exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that ordinarily happens as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from harm. These protectors might be created at a higher rate in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The rate of cognitive 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 mental health in general even though this research only focused on one common 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 ignore them. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same way.
They got even more remarkable results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social element. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Also, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these conditions.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. 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 about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.