Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to more than 12 countries and has many more to go. On any given day, you may 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 at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started showing the first signs of mental decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Every day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals 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 a number of very important reasons.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. These protectors might be created at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The occurrence of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to disengage 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 crucial. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way to mental decline. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more impressive. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social factor. Individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social clubs and events.
Also, 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 degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Stave 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 call us for a hearing exam. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.