Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an 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 out on the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandkids, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But occasionally, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how dementia or cognitive decline could really change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started to show the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. Each day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
People who do modest exercise every day have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Here are several reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can ward off mental decline.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that commonly happens as a person ages. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. There are mechanisms in your body that safeguard some cells from damage. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise decreases the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. 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. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The occurrence of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted 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 preserving eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. The connection between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards cognitive decline if you have untreated hearing loss. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
The results were even more remarkable. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who received hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social element. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when somebody slowly starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have untreated hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Stave 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 make an appointment with us. Learn how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.