Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days she can be found 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.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could completely change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize 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’s not certain that will be enough. Are there established ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan found out that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
People who do modest exercise daily have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Scientists believe that exercise may ward off mental decline for several really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that commonly happens as we get older. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from harm. Scientists believe that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between cognitive decline and social isolation is the focus 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
If you have untreated hearing loss, you could be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that carried out the cataract study. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of mental decline.
They got even more impressive results. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social aspect. People who have untreated hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when a person gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration progressively affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.