Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. 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 you’ll find her tackling a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out on the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But sometimes, Susan can’t help but worry about how cognitive decline or dementia could really change her life.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she began exhibiting 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 forgets random things. 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 avoid what her mother experienced. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Are there proven ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Thankfully, there are things you can do to stave off cognitive decline. Here are only three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she attempts to get at least the suggested amount of exercise.
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 coping with some form of mental decline also have a positive impact from consistent exercise.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists think consistent exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system deteriorates and regular exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Researchers believe that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds 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. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Address Vision Problems
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in individuals who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Eyesight loss at an older age can cause a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. Additional studies have examined links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be safeguarding yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you might be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that carried out the cataract study. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same manner.
They got even more remarkable results. Mental decline was decreased by 75% in the participants who were given hearing aids. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social component 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 starts to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. The deterioration progressively impacts other parts of the brain the longer the person waits to get their hearing aids.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with neglected hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. People who have untreated hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
Clearly, your mental capability and memory are going to start to falter under these circumstances.
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 call us for a hearing exam. Find out how you can hear better with modern technological advancements in hearing aids.