Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited over 12 countries and has lots more to go. On some days she can be found tackling a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began showing the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother went through. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
The good news is, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers believe 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. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from harm. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have explored links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same manner.
The results were even more remarkable. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People with neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these conditions.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing examination. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.