Susan always recognized that when 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 might find her out on the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
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 started showing 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’s becoming forgetful. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a 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 prevent cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan discovered that she’s already on the right track. Every day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they get older have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think regular exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that normally occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand 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 mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The risk 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 flow of blood. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
The rate of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
While this study focused on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have explored links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. 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 might be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. 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 progression rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
The social component is the first thing. People tend to go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when someone 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 neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People with neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, 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 hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.