Susan always knew 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 some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there confirmed ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a reduced risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that people who are already experiencing some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why researchers believe consistent 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. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. Your body has functions that protect certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The occurrence of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this research only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to disengage from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Further studies have examined connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you might be on your way to mental decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the advance of cognitive decline.
The results were even more impressive. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social component. People tend to go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when someone gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration gradually affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People who have neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to falter under these conditions.
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 exam. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.