Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days you’ll find her 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.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried 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 daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother went through. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there established ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise consistently as they get older have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers believe consistent exercise can ward off mental decline.
- As a person gets older, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
The occurrence of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that carried out the cataract study. They used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
The results were even more significant. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social factor. People who have neglected hearing loss often 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 person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Stave 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 schedule a visit with us. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.