Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than a dozen countries and has lots more to go. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
The good news is, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise every day.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why researchers think consistent exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. 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 deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from damage. These protectors might be created at a higher level in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Further studies have explored links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard 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 might be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more remarkable results. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. Individuals who have neglected hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when a person gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration gradually 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 neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these circumstances.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant 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.