Susan is living the active lifestyle she always thought she would after retirement. At 68, she’s now visited over 12 countries and has many more to go. On some days she can be found exploring a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Susan always has something new to see or do. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she started showing the first signs of mental 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’s becoming forgetful. Eventually, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy 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?
The good news is, it is possible to ward off cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
Susan discovered that she’s already on the right track. Each day she attempts to get at least the recommended amount of exercise.
Individuals who do modest exercise daily have a reduced risk of mental decline according to many studies. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of mental decline.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists believe consistent exercise can ward off cognitive decline.
- Exercise slows the deterioration of the nervous system that ordinarily happens as a person ages. The brain uses these nerves to communicate with the body, process memories, and consider how to do things. Scientists believe that because exercise slows this deterioration, it also slows mental decline.
- Exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that safeguard certain kinds of cells from damage. Scientists think that an individual who exercises might produce more of these protectors.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are transported to the brain by blood. If cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise may be able to delay dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The rate of cognitive decline was cut almost in half in individuals who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this study focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
Losing eyesight at an older age can cause a person to retreat from their circle of friends and quit doing things they love. Additional studies have examined links between social isolation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is essential. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what’s necessary to maintain healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
You may be going towards mental decline if you have neglected hearing loss. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that performed the cataract research. They used the same methods to test for the advance of cognitive decline.
The results were even more impressive. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decline by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
There are some likely reasons for this.
First is the social aspect. People will often go into isolation 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 start to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this deterioration progresses into other parts of the brain.
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 people with neglected hearing loss.
Clearly, your mental ability 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 procrastinating on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to call us for a hearing exam. Learn about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.