Susan always recognized that after 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 a lot more trips. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could totally change her life.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize 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 slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise each day.
Individuals who do modest exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers believe that exercise might ward off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that typically occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be created at a higher level in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, revealed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this research only focused on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have explored links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. 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 might be heading towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
The results were even more significant. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. Individuals who are dealing with neglected hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward 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.