Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than a dozen 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 children’s hospital.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could completely change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around 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 day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother went through. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. Every day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
People who do modest exercise every day have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. These same studies show that people who are already coping with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Scientists believe that exercise may stave off mental decline for several very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that normally happens as we get older. The brain uses 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 could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher level in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research concentrated on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have explored links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way into mental decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more significant. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social factor. People who are dealing with untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when a person slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration gradually affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these circumstances.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing examination. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.