Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has many more on her list. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. 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’s not sure that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they get older have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think regular exercise can stave off mental decline.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that typically occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this study only focused on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. The connection between cognitive decline and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more impressive. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. People who have neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when a person slowly begins 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.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to start to falter under these conditions.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.