Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On some days you’ll find her investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying 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.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she started showing 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. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother went through. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there established ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Luckily, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Each day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already noticing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists believe that exercise might stave off cognitive decline for a number of really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that normally 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 mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. Scientists believe that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. 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. Treat Vision Problems
The rate of mental decline was cut almost in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
Preserving healthy eyesight is important for mental health in general even though this research only focused on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Further studies have investigated connections between social separation and worsening dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of mental decline.
The results were even more remarkable. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. 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 clubs 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 progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People who have untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.