Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could completely change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show 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 unconditionally struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother experienced. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Are there established ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
Individuals who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. These same studies show that people who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise might stave off cognitive decline for numerous really important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this research concentrated on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People often begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between cognitive decline and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you might be on your way into cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more remarkable results. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social element. People who are dealing with neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Additionally, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.