Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days she can be found investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. 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 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 identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is she doing 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 stave off cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan found out that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of mental decline.
Scientists think that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that typically happens as a person ages. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, revealed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have explored links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. 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 neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same manner.
The results were even more significant. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
The social component is the first thing. People who are dealing with neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People with neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Ward 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 call us for a hearing assessment. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.