Susan is living the active lifestyle she always knew she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now been to more than a dozen countries and has many 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.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she began 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 without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they get older have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for several very important reasons.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent 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. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this flow of blood. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for mental health in general even though this study only focused on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Further studies have examined connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to sharpen your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more remarkable results. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social component. Individuals who have untreated hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when someone gradually begins 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.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.