Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. 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, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could completely change her life.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, 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. There finally 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 avoid what her mother went through. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Each day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
People who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already coping with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that typically occurs as we get older. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from harm. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood delivers 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 might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
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.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for cognitive health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Further studies have investigated connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you might be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same way.
The results were even more remarkable. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social factor. People will often go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when someone gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing exam. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.