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 over 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On some days you’ll find her tackling 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 concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Individuals 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 dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists believe consistent exercise can ward off mental decline.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Scientists think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors might be created at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Oxygen and nutrients are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. Exercise might be able to delay dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut almost in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this study focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and withdraw from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have investigated links between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more remarkable. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. Individuals who are dealing with neglected hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when a person gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration gradually affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with neglected hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to start to slip under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.