Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has many more on her list. On some days you’ll find her 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.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could totally change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began showing the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. Eventually, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. 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?
The good news is, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists believe consistent exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
While this study focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to retreat from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have investigated connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way into 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 remarkable results. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. People will often go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when a person gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration gradually impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.