Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On some days you’ll find her exploring a hiking trail with her grandchildren, 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 at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began exhibiting the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She started to become forgetful. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things that can be done to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they get older have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Here are several reasons why researchers think consistent exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain kinds of cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher level in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood delivers 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 Concerns
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this research concentrated 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.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between cognitive decline and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way to cognitive decline. 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 progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more impressive results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social element. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
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.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re procrastinating 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 today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.