Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning a lot more trips. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could totally change her life.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, 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. There finally 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 went through. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to avert cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Get Exercise
Susan found out that she’s already going in the right direction. Every day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a reduced risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers think regular exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that commonly occurs as a person ages. 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 breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from harm. Scientists think that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Problems
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 people.
While this study focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have examined connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the advance of mental decline.
They got even more impressive results. The people who got 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.
The social element is the first thing. People will often go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Second, when somebody slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration 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 people with untreated 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 have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.