Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 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 grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started to show the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, 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 remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to stave off cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that people who do moderate exercise consistently 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 mental decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise may ward off mental decline for a number of very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that commonly occurs as a person ages. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from activities they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have examined connections between social separation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way to cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that conducted the cataract study. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more impressive. The group who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People who have neglected hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when somebody gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.