Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really 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 daily tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is she doing 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. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Each day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that people who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that people who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers believe consistent exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about 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. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors might be created at a higher rate in people who get enough exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
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 subjects.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this research only focused on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss 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 ignore them. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive 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 advancement of mental decline in the same way.
The results were even more significant. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when a person slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability 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 call us for a hearing assessment. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.