Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has lots more to go. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother went through. But she isn’t sure that will be 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 stave off cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan found out that she’s already going in the right direction. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists believe that exercise might stave off mental decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that normally happens as a person ages. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
While this study concentrated on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between cognitive decline and social separation is the focus of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss 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 may be heading towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.
They got even more impressive results. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social element. People will often go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Also, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The degeneration gradually affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People with neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing examination. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.