Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has lots more to go. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began showing the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother went through. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already on the right track. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do moderate 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 experiencing symptoms of mental decline.
Scientists think that exercise might ward off mental decline for numerous very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that commonly 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 mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that protect certain types of cells from harm. These protectors might be created at a higher level in individuals who get enough exercise.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have investigated links between social separation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract study. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same way.
The results were even more impressive. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. People tend to go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The deterioration progressively 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 wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to falter under these conditions.
Ward 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.