Susan always recognized 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 a lot more trips. On some days you’ll find her tackling a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out on 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.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always cared for her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She’s becoming forgetful. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother went through. But she’s not sure that will be enough. Are there established ways to slow 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. Get Exercise
Susan learned that she’s already going in the right direction. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
People who do moderate exercise every day have a reduced risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already noticing symptoms of mental decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for a number of very important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists think that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the danger of cardiovascular disease. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address 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 extracted.
While this study concentrated on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age 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. Additional studies have examined connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be going towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that carried out the cataract research. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
They got even more impressive results. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
The social element is the first thing. People who are dealing with neglected hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Additionally, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively impacts 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 wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.