Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has many more on her list. On some days she can be found investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, 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. Eventually, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
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 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 found out that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise every day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already coping with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for numerous very important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that ordinarily occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from harm. These protectors may be created at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Further studies have examined connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that conducted the cataract study. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more impressive. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social aspect. People who are dealing with neglected hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to slip under these circumstances.
Stave 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 contact us for a hearing examination. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.