Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning many 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.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about 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’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there established ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Researchers think that exercise may stave off mental decline for a number of really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that typically happens as a person ages. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from harm. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The connection between cognitive decline 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 could be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that carried out the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
The results were even more impressive. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social factor. People who are dealing with untreated hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social clubs and events.
Additionally, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people 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 capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.