Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has many 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 soup kitchen.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could really change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began showing the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She started to become forgetful. At some point, she could only identify 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? 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 prevent cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that people who do moderate exercise regularly as they get older have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists believe that exercise might stave off mental decline for several very important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally occurs as a person ages. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher level in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The rate of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for cognitive health in general even though this research only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have investigated links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more impressive results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social aspect. Individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when somebody slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to start to falter under these conditions.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.