Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than 12 countries and is planning many more trips. 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.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could totally change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began exhibiting the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to stave off cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
People who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. These same studies show that people who are already experiencing some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think regular exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from harm. Scientists think that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this flow of blood. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the occurrence of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this study focused on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have explored links between social separation and worsening dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting 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 cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more impressive results. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social component is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when someone slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward 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 about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.