Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to over 12 countries and has many more on her list. On some days she can be found exploring 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.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother went through. 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 prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do moderate exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers think that exercise might ward off mental decline for several very important reasons.
- As a person gets older, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand 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 cognitive decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from damage. Scientists think that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Concerns
The occurrence of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is important for mental health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between dementia and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading 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 advance of cognitive decline.
The results were even more impressive. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People will often go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Additionally, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The degeneration gradually affects 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 untreated hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to slip under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing examination. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.