Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than 12 countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
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 showed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. 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 attempted to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there established ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that commonly happens as we get older. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this study focused on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to disengage from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. The link between cognitive decline and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. If you can take measures to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way to mental decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that carried out the cataract study. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of cognitive decline.
They got even more remarkable results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when somebody slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip under these conditions.
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 make an appointment with us. Find out about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.