Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed 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. At some point, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
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 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. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already noticing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers think that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for a number of very important reasons.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from harm. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading 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 tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more remarkable. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social aspect. People tend to go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when a person slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration progressively affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.