Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew 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 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.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started to show the first signs of mental decline. 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 what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
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 everyday life. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Here are several reasons why scientists think regular exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As a person ages, 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 consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to slow down 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 people.
While this research concentrated on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have investigated links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way to mental decline. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more impressive results. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People who are dealing with neglected hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social clubs and events.
Additionally, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The deterioration gradually impacts 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 individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip under these circumstances.
Stave 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 make an appointment with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.