Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited over 12 countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you may find her out on the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Seeing and doing 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.
Her mother displayed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. Eventually, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother went through. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
The good news is, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. Each day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that people who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a decreased risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive effect on people who are already experiencing symptoms of mental decline.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’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 mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be created at a higher level in individuals who get enough exercise.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this study focused on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People often begin to seclude themselves from friends and retreat from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline and social separation is the focus of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.
The results were even more significant. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was nearly completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social aspect. People who are dealing with neglected hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when somebody gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip 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. Learn how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.