Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to more than a dozen countries and has many more to go. On some days you’ll find her investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was about 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 forgets random things. Eventually, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan discovered that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
People who do moderate exercise every day have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of mental decline.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that typically occurs as a person ages. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from harm. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Further studies have examined connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same way.
The results were even more significant. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. People will often go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when someone slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration progressively impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
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.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
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 schedule a visit with us. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.