Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited more than a dozen countries and has many more to go. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, discovering a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But at times, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could totally change her life.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition 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 balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother went through. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Is there anything else she can do that’s been found to slow cognitive decline and dementia?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to stave off cognitive decline. Here are just three.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Every day she tries to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they get older have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already noticing symptoms of cognitive decline.
Here are numerous reasons why researchers believe consistent exercise can stave off mental decline.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that ordinarily occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so researchers believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. The connection between cognitive decline and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
Getting cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way into mental decline. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the advancement of mental decline in the same way.
The results were even more impressive. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement 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. Individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person progressively forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The deterioration gradually 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 use hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
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 schedule a visit with us. Learn how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.