Susan always knew that when she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to more than a dozen countries and is planning many 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 worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began showing the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with day-to-day tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother experienced. 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. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
Susan learned that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
People who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of cognitive decline according to many studies. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Here are several reasons why researchers think regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise decreases the deterioration of the nervous system that normally occurs as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this breakdown so researchers believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. Scientists believe that a person who exercises may produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, demonstrated that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
Maintaining healthy eyesight is essential for cognitive health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. The link between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you might be on your way to cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They tested the advancement of mental decline in the same way.
The results were even more significant. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social element is the first thing. People tend to go into isolation when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when someone gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The degeneration progressively affects 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 abilities.
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 make an appointment with us. Find out about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.