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 many more to go. 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.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother went through. 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 you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Scientists think that exercise may stave off mental decline for a number of really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for cognitive health in general even though this study only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline and social separation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going 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 study. They tested the advancement of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more significant. The group who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The degeneration gradually impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. 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’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing exam. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.