Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, 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 be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could really change her life.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already going in the right direction. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Individuals who do modest exercise every day have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already coping with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers think consistent exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent 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. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. These protectors may be created at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise may be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to disengage from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The link between cognitive decline and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
The results were even more significant. The individuals who got 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.
First is the social component. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these conditions.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing exam. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.