Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over 12 countries and is planning many more trips. On any given day, you may find her enjoying the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Seeing and doing new things is what Susan is all about. But at times, Susan can’t help but be concerned about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was about Susan’s age. Over a period of 15 years, 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 started to become forgetful. There finally came a time when she often couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a balanced diet and exercise so she could hopefully steer clear of what her mother experienced. But she’s not certain that will be enough. Are there proven ways to slow dementia or cognitive decline?
Luckily, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Regularly
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
People who do moderate exercise daily have a decreased risk of mental decline according to many studies. These same studies show that individuals who are already experiencing some form of cognitive decline also have a positive impact from regular exercise.
Scientists believe that exercise may ward off cognitive decline for several really important reasons.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. 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.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms in your body that protect some cells from harm. Scientists believe that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease blocks this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that having cataract surgery halved the occurrence of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
Preserving healthy eyesight is important for cognitive health in general even though this research only concentrated on one prevalent cause of eyesight loss.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from things they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline 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 you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that carried out the cataract study. They used the same techniques to test for the progression of mental decline.
The results were even more significant. Cognitive decline was reduced by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. In other words, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. Individuals who have neglected hearing loss often socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Second, when somebody slowly starts 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, used an MRI to compare the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People with neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Obviously, your mental capability and memory are going to begin to slip under these conditions.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing examination. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.