Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than a dozen countries and has lots more to go. On some days you’ll find her 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.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she started exhibiting the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. There eventually 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 avoid what her mother experienced. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
The good news is, it is possible to stave off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Each day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do modest exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for several very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that normally happens as a person ages. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from harm. Scientists believe that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is crucial for cognitive health in general even though this research only focused on one common cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have explored connections between social separation and worsening dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
They got even more remarkable results. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social component 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.
Additionally, a person gradually 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. People who have untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing examination. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.