Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than a dozen countries and is planning many more trips. On some days she can be found investigating a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could completely change her life.
Her mother displayed 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 forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already experiencing symptoms of mental decline.
Scientists think that exercise might stave off mental decline for numerous really important reasons.
- As an individual gets older, 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. Scientists think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be created at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this study concentrated on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. The connection between dementia and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you might be on your way to mental decline. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same way.
The results were even more remarkable. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when a person slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.