Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show 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 what seemed to be simple tasks. She started to become forgetful. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
People who do modest exercise every day have a reduced risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that people who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Scientists believe that exercise might ward off cognitive decline for several very important reasons.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists believe that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Further studies have examined links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same way.
The results were even more impressive. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social element. People will often go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when a person gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Ward 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 schedule a visit with us. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.