Susan always recognized that when 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 a lot more trips. On some days she can be found investigating a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Seeing and doing 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.
Her mother showed 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 without condition struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. There finally 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 avoid what her mother went through. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Are there established ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to stave off 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.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive impact on people who are already experiencing symptoms of mental decline.
Researchers believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for several very important reasons.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that ordinarily happens as a person ages. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain types of cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get enough exercise.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood brings nutrients and oxygen to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. Exercise may be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is important for cognitive health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Additional studies have investigated links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.
The results were even more remarkable. The individuals who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social factor. Individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss often socially isolate 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 start to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. People with neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental ability and memory are going to begin to slip under these circumstances.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Find out about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.