Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started to show the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Each day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Individuals who do modest exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may ward off mental decline for a number of very important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in 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 delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
Preserving healthy eyesight is important 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 lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. The connection between dementia and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you might 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 progression of mental decline.
They got even more remarkable results. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social aspect. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Also, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The degeneration 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 neglected 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. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.