Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On some days you’ll find her tackling a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan’s all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, 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 often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
The good news is, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. These same studies show that people who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Scientists believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for numerous very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that typically happens as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so scientists think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. Scientists think that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this study focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract study. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more remarkable. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social element is the first thing. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when someone slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People with untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability 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 contact us for a hearing exam. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.