Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has many more on her list. On some days you’ll find her tackling 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 do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise each day.
Individuals who do modest exercise daily have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already experiencing symptoms of mental decline.
Here are several reasons why researchers believe regular exercise can ward off mental decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The occurrence of mental decline was cut almost in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
Preserving healthy eyesight is essential for cognitive health in general even though this study only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. The link between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the advancement 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. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
They got even more impressive results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social component. People tend to go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when a person gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.