Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited over 12 countries and has many more to go. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother exhibited 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 daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. These same studies show that individuals who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that ordinarily happens as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from harm. Scientists think that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this study focused on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive 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 dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting 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 study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same way.
They got even more remarkable results. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social element is the first thing. People who have untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when someone slowly starts 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.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. 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 ward off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.