Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother exhibited 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 everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
The good news is, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Every day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. These same studies show that people who are already coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Researchers believe that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that normally occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from damage. Scientists think that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, showed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this study only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have investigated links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.
They got even more impressive results. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social component is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when a person slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses 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 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 falter under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.