Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than a dozen countries and has many more to go. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Fortunately, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise regularly as they get older have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that typically happens as a person ages. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain kinds of cells from harm. These protectors may be created at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is important for cognitive health in general even though this research only focused 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 quit doing things they enjoy. The connection between cognitive decline and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of cognitive decline.
The results were even more impressive. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social element is the first thing. People will often go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when somebody gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
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 make an appointment with us. Learn how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.