Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning many 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 worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother showed first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always loved and respected, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She forgets random things. Eventually, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
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 sure that will be enough. Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
The good news is, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
Susan discovered that she’s already going in the right direction. Each day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do modest exercise every day 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 scientists believe regular exercise can stave off cognitive decline.
- As a person ages, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand 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 enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has mechanisms that protect certain types of cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The danger of cardiovascular disease is lowered by exercising. Oxygen and nutrients are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that having cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this research concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and quit doing things they enjoy. Further studies have examined links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you could be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers in the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of cognitive decline.
They got even more impressive results. Mental 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.
First is the social aspect. Individuals who are dealing with untreated hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they have a hard time interacting with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Additionally, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. The deterioration progressively 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 individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. The brain actually shrinks in people with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Ward 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 today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.