Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has many more to go. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried 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?
Fortunately, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise every day.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. These same studies show that individuals who are already coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As a person gets older, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from harm. These protectors might be created at a higher level in individuals who get enough exercise.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for cognitive health in general even though this study only focused on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to disengage from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. Further studies have explored connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way to mental decline. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of mental decline.
They got even more impressive results. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. People who have untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Also, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to slip under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.