Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now visited over a dozen countries and has many more on her list. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began to show the first signs of cognitive decline. 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 forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
People who do modest exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. These same studies show that people who are already experiencing some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Here are a number of reasons why researchers believe consistent exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard certain types of cells from harm. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by exercising. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The occurrence of cognitive 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 mental health in general even though this research only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to disengage from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. The connection between cognitive decline and social isolation is the focus of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of cognitive decline in the same way.
They got even more remarkable results. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
First is the social component. People will often go into isolation when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when somebody gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration gradually affects other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to those who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
Obviously, 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’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing examination. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.