Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would in retirement. At 68, she’s now visited more than 12 countries and has many more to go. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandchildren, on others she will be volunteering at a local hospital, and sometimes you will see her out on 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. Over a period of 15 years, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her unconditionally struggled with seemingly simple tasks. She forgets random things. At some point, she could only recognize Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully prevent what her mother went through. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Are there confirmed ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Here are just three.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s daily life. Every day she tries to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Many studies support the fact that people who do modest exercise consistently as they get older have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already coping with some form of cognitive decline also have a positive effect from regular exercise.
Scientists believe that exercise may stave off cognitive decline for a number of very important reasons.
- As a person ages, the nervous system degenerates 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. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers believe that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be increased with exercise. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists believe that a person who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- The risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by exercising. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this flow of blood. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Address Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, revealed that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of mental decline in the group who had them extracted.
Preserving healthy eyesight is crucial for cognitive health in general even though this study only concentrated on one common cause of eyesight loss.
Eyesight loss at an older age can lead a person to disengage from their circle of friends and stop doing things they enjoy. The link between dementia and social isolation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just dismiss them. 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 untreated hearing loss, you might be on your way to mental decline. The same researchers from the cataract study gave 2000 different participants who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the advance of cognitive decline.
They got even more impressive results. The people who received the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already experiencing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social aspect. People who have untreated hearing loss often socially isolate themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social clubs and events.
Second, when a person gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration advances into other parts of the brain.
As a matter of fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who use hearing aids using an MRI. People with neglected hearing loss actually experience shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to make an appointment with us. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.