Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to over 12 countries and has lots more to go. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, discovering 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 occasionally, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was around 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. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there established ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do modest exercise consistently as they get older have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already experiencing symptoms of mental decline.
Scientists believe that exercise might stave off cognitive decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that commonly occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for mental health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Further studies have examined links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. 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 untreated hearing loss, you could be on your way into cognitive decline. 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 manner.
The results were even more remarkable. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social component. People will often go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when a person 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.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these conditions.
Ward 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 schedule a visit with us. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.