Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now visited over a dozen countries and has lots more to go. On some days you’ll find her exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, 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 concerned 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 respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a 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 slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
People who do modest exercise every day have a reduced 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 regular exercise.
Here are several reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from harm. Scientists believe that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have examined links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more impressive. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social component is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when somebody gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration 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 untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward 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.