Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now visited more than a dozen countries and has lots 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 enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to see or do. 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 exhibiting the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She started to become 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 prevent what her mother experienced. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to stave off cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that people who are already coping with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why researchers think regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that normally happens as a person ages. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in people who get enough exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
Preserving healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this research only focused on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have examined links between social separation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way into mental decline. The same researchers in the cataract research 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 impressive results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social element. People who are dealing with neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when somebody gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person 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 people with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.