Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning many more trips. On any given day, you might find her out on 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 at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began showing the first signs of mental decline. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise regularly as they get older have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Scientists believe that exercise may ward off mental decline for several very important reasons.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system degenerates 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. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain kinds of cells from harm. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this study only focused on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they love 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 steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same way.
They got even more remarkable results. The group who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social component is the first thing. Individuals who have neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when someone slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration gradually impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People with neglected hearing loss actually have 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’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing examination. Learn how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.