Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days you’ll find her investigating a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could really change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
The good news is, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. This same research shows that individuals who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Researchers think that exercise might ward off mental decline for a number of very important reasons.
- As a person gets older, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. 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 breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
The rate of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have examined connections between social separation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract study. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more impressive results. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social component is the first thing. Individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances 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. People with neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.