Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has many more to go. 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.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began showing the first signs of cognitive decline. 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 finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already going in the right direction. Each day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
People who do moderate exercise every day have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. These same studies show that people who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Researchers think that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for a number of very important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally happens as we get older. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The connection between cognitive decline and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that conducted the cataract study. They tested the advancement of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more remarkable. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social component. People tend to go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Also, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
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 how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.