Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than 12 countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. 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 to show 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 without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. This same research shows that individuals who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why researchers think regular exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that typically occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The rate of cognitive decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
Preserving healthy eyesight is important for cognitive health in general even though this study only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have explored links between social separation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. 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 untreated hearing loss, you could be on your way into mental decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that conducted the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more remarkable results. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social aspect. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Also, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively impacts 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 neglected hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to start to falter under these circumstances.
Stave off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.