Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandkids, 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. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do modest exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers think that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for a number of really important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in people 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 slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this study focused on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline and social separation is the focus of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of mental decline.
The results were even more significant. The group who got the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. Individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The deterioration progressively affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Stave 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. Find out about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.