Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could totally change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began showing the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do moderate exercise consistently as they get older have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of mental decline.
Scientists think that exercise may ward off mental decline for several very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that typically occurs as a person ages. 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 deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. Scientists believe that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this research only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People often begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have investigated links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading 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 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. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social element 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 challenge.
Second, when someone gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People with untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip under these conditions.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.