Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to over 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
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’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently 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 certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Luckily, there are things that can be done to stave off cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. This same research shows that people who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers believe regular exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so researchers believe that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from harm. Scientists believe that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, showed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for cognitive health in general even though this study only focused on one prevalent 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. The link between dementia and social separation is the focus of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may 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 used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
They got even more impressive results. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social component. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Additionally, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant 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.