Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning a lot more trips. On some days she can be found tackling a hiking trail with her grandchildren, 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.
When Susan’s mother was about her age she started to show the first signs of cognitive decline. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, 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 recognize Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise. But she isn’t sure that will be enough. Are there established 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
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise regularly as they get older have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. This same research shows 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 scientists believe regular exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise decreases the degeneration of the nervous system that commonly occurs as a person ages. The brain needs these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and think about how to do things. Researchers think that because exercise slows this breakdown, it also slows cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that safeguard 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 obstructs this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Have Vision Concerns Treated
The rate of mental decline was cut nearly in half in people who had their cataracts extracted according to an 18-year study conducted on 2000 subjects.
While this study focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you get older is important for your cognitive health.
People often begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from things they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between cognitive decline and social separation is the focus of other studies.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You might be heading towards cognitive decline if you have neglected hearing loss. The same researchers from the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They tested the progression of mental decline in the same way.
They got even more remarkable results. The group who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some probable reasons for this.
The social aspect is the first thing. People tend to go into seclusion when they have neglected hearing loss because interacting with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they begin to lose their hearing. The degeneration progressively affects 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. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you’re procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing assessment. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.