Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has many more to go. On some days you’ll find her exploring 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.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could completely change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise regularly as they get older 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 numerous reasons why scientists believe regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates and regular 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. Researchers think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
The rate of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this study only concentrated 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 stop doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have examined links between social separation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you might be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same way.
The results were even more significant. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when a person slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration gradually impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.