Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has many more to go. 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 enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with everyday tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she’s not 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 ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise regularly as they get older have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. This same research shows that people who are already experiencing some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Scientists think that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that ordinarily occurs as a person ages. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that safeguard some cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
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 concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. The link between dementia and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you might be on your way to mental decline. 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.
They got even more remarkable results. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. Essentially, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some probable reasons.
The social aspect is the first thing. People tend to go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Also, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. If the person 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 untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in people with untreated hearing loss.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to falter under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.