Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. 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 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 started to show the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother went through. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there established ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. Each day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise consistently as they get older have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. This same research shows that people who are already coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Here are several reasons why researchers think consistent exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
While this study focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Further studies have examined links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that conducted the cataract study. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of mental decline.
They got even more remarkable results. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Additionally, a person slowly 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.
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. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
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 contact us for a hearing exam. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.