Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s 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 started showing the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She started to become forgetful. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother went through. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Are there proven 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 on the right track. Every day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do moderate exercise every day have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Here are a number of reasons why scientists think regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that normally occurs as a person ages. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise could increase the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from harm. These protectors might be created at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research concentrated on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People often begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Further studies have investigated connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards mental decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the advance of cognitive decline.
They got even more remarkable results. The individuals who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease 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 tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when someone slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration progressively affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People with neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these circumstances.
Stave 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 assessment. Learn how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.