Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
The good news is, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise regularly as they get older have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that people who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think regular exercise can ward off mental decline.
- As a person gets older, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so researchers believe that it could also slow mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, showed that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this study focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to disengage from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Further studies have investigated connections between social separation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to preserve 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 carried out the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more remarkable. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
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 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, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
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 reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.