Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over 12 countries and has many more on her list. 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.
Seeing and doing 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 started to become forgetful. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Are there established ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do moderate exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Here are several reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can ward off mental decline.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that normally occurs as we get older. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain kinds of cells from harm. These protectors might be produced at a higher level in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this research focused on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have examined links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way to cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more remarkable results. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. People tend to go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when someone gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration gradually affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
As a matter of 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 individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to slip under these conditions.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re putting off 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.