Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has many more on her list. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandchildren, 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 see or do. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother went through. But she isn’t 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 prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for numerous very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that ordinarily happens as we get older. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher level in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk 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 delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The rate of cognitive decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
Preserving healthy eyesight is important for mental health in general even though this study only focused on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between dementia and social separation is the focus of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of mental decline.
They got even more impressive results. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. People who have untreated hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when a person slowly begins 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.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually experience 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’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.