Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has many more on her list. On some days you’ll find her exploring a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to do or see. But at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
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 taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She started to become forgetful. There finally came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always attempted to remain healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things that can be done to avert cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do modest exercise every day have a reduced risk of mental decline according to many studies. This same research shows that individuals who are already dealing with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As an individual ages, the nervous system degenerates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists think that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this flow of blood. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this research focused on one prevalent cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Further studies have examined connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you might be on your way into mental decline. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same manner.
They got even more impressive results. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the people who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. People who have neglected hearing loss tend to socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when a person gradually starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration progresses into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People with neglected 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’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing assessment. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.