Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than a dozen countries and has lots more to go. On some days she can be found tackling 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.
Susan always has something new to do or see. 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 started showing the first signs of mental decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She started to become forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
The good news is, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan found out that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise every day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. These same studies show that people who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. 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 breakdown so scientists believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from harm. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have explored connections between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be heading 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 tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more impressive. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
The social component is the first thing. Individuals who are dealing with neglected hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social clubs and events.
Also, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The degeneration gradually affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
In 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.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.