Susan always recognized that when 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 some days she can be found investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could really change her life.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She’s becoming 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 went through. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there confirmed ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
People who do modest exercise every day have a decreased risk of cognitive 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 a number of really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally occurs as a person ages. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may 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 individuals who get enough exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is important for mental health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. Further studies have explored links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more remarkable. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social element is the first thing. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
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 degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.