Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited over a dozen countries and has lots more to go. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but worry about how dementia or cognitive decline could really change her life.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began showing the first signs of cognitive decline. 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 started to become forgetful. Eventually, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is this enough? Are there confirmed ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to prevent cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
People who do modest exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Scientists think that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that commonly occurs as a person ages. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 subjects.
While this research focused on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
People frequently begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
They got even more remarkable results. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social factor. People who have untreated hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when someone gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses 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 individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to slip under these conditions.
Ward 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 examination. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.