Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now visited over 12 countries and has many more on her list. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there proven 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 Everyday
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. Every day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise consistently as they get older have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. This same research shows that people who are already experiencing some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Scientists think that exercise might ward off mental decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that typically happens as we get older. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that safeguard certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists think that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports 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 retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Additional studies have explored links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.
They got even more impressive results. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
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 challenge.
Also, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The deterioration gradually impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to start to slip under these circumstances.
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 about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.