Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days she can be found investigating a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. 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 stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. 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 you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they get older have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of mental decline.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists think regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial 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 lead a person to disengage from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Further studies have examined links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. 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 remarkable results. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. People will often go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The deterioration progressively 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 untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to start to slip under these circumstances.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.