Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has lots more to go. On some days she can be found tackling 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.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. At some point, 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 exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Fortunately, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
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.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise consistently as they get older have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that people who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists believe regular exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- As a person gets older, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this research only focused 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. Additional studies have investigated links between social separation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. You’ll be safeguarding 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 may be on your way to cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They tested the advancement of mental decline in the same way.
They got even more remarkable results. The group who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social aspect. People who are dealing with untreated hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when somebody slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People with untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to start to slip under these conditions.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. 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 today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.