Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has many more on her list. On some days she can be found investigating 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.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could totally change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, 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. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there confirmed ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Individuals who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already encountering symptoms of mental decline.
Here are several reasons why researchers believe regular exercise can stave off mental decline.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally happens as a person ages. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have investigated connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract study. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
The results were even more significant. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social component. People will often go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when someone slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Stave 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 about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.