Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s 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 around Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a reduced risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. This same research shows that people who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Scientists think that exercise may ward off mental decline for numerous very important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from harm. Scientists think that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this study focused on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study backs 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 disengage from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Further studies have explored links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. 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 could be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more impressive results. Mental decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. People will often go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Also, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person 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 neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, 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 procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.