Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On some days you’ll find her investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could totally change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around 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 day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise might ward off mental decline for several very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that ordinarily occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so researchers think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain kinds of cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is important for cognitive health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The connection between dementia and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract study. They used the same methods to test for the advance of mental decline.
They got even more remarkable results. The group who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. People who have untreated hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental ability and memory are going to start to slip under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.