Susan always recognized that when she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now been to over a dozen countries and has lots more on her list. On any given day, you might find her enjoying the lake, tackling a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local children’s hospital.
Susan always has something new to do or see. 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 about Susan’s age. 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’s becoming forgetful. At some point, she could only identify Susan on a good day.
Having experienced what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is she doing enough? Are there established 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. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise each day.
Lots of research supports the fact that individuals who do modest exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia. These same studies show that individuals who are already dealing with some form of mental decline also have a positive effect from consistent exercise.
Researchers think that exercise may stave off mental decline for numerous really important reasons.
- Exercise slows the degeneration of the nervous system that normally happens as we get older. Without these nerves, the brain won’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors may be enhanced with exercise. There are mechanisms within your body that protect some cells from damage. These protectors may be produced at a higher rate in individuals who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. If cardiovascular disease stops this blood flow, cells die. By keeping the vessels and heart healthy, exercise might be able to delay dementia.
2. Treat Vision Concerns
An 18-year study of 2000 individuals with cataracts, showed that getting cataract surgery halved the occurrence of cognitive decline in the group who had them extracted.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for eyesight loss, this study backs the fact that maintaining eyesight as you get older is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and retreat from activities they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. Additional studies have investigated links between social separation and advancing dementia.
Having cataracts treated is crucial. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have untreated hearing loss, you may be on your way into cognitive decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 people by the same researchers that performed the cataract study. They tested the advancement of cognitive decline in the same manner.
The results were even more remarkable. The group who received the hearing aids saw their dementia advancement rates decrease by 75%. So the dementia symptoms they were already noticing simply stopped.
This has some probable reasons.
First is the social aspect. Individuals who have neglected hearing loss tend to socially seclude themselves because they struggle to interact with their friends at social gatherings and events.
Also, a person slowly forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances 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 individuals with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to stave off dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out about today’s technologically sophisticated designs that help you hear better.
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