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 some days she can be found 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 on the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she started showing the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. 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 prevent what her mother went through. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Researchers think that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for numerous very important reasons.
- As a person 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 think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise could enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain kinds of cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, showed that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this study concentrated 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.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. Further studies have investigated links between social separation and advancing dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of mental decline.
The results were even more significant. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. People tend to go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when somebody gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration progressively impacts 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 untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.