3 Unexpected Ways to Slow Dementia and Mental Decline


man exercising in park.

In her retirement, Linda is actively embracing the lifestyle she had envisioned. At 68, she has already explored numerous countries and has a long list of others she plans to visit. Whether she’s on the beach, discovering new hiking trails with her grandkids, or dedicating her time to volunteer at the local children’s hospital, Linda consistently finds new and exciting activities.

Despite her vibrant lifestyle, Linda grapples with concerns about the potential impact of dementia or cognitive decline on her life. The specter of her mother’s journey with dementia, which began around Linda’s current age, lingers in her thoughts. Witnessing her mother’s gradual decline over 15 years, from forgetting random details to struggling with basic tasks and eventually recognizing her only on good days, has left a lasting impression on Linda.

In response to her mother’s experience, Linda has been proactive in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, focusing on a balanced diet and regular exercise. However, she contemplates whether her efforts are sufficient and questions if there are scientifically proven methods to slow down dementia or cognitive decline.

Fortunately, there are effective measures one can take to mitigate cognitive decline. Here are three proven strategies.

Exercise

Linda found out that she’s already on the right track. She does try to get the recommended amount of exercise each day.

Many studies support the fact that people who do moderate exercise regularly as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also shown a positive impact on people who are already experiencing mental decline symptoms.

Researchers believe that engaging in physical activity could potentially delay cognitive decline for a variety of crucial reasons.

  • Physical activity decelerates the degeneration of the nervous system that typically occurs with aging. These nerves are essential for communication between the brain and the body, as well as for processing memories and cognitive functions. Scientists believe that exercise’s ability to impede this breakdown is linked to a slowdown in mental decline.
  • Engaging in exercise may increase the production of neuroprotection factors. The body possesses mechanisms that shield specific types of cells from damage, and scientists believe that individuals who exercise may generate a higher quantity of these protective factors.
  • Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The bloodstream transports nutrients and oxygen to brain cells, and if cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow, cells die. By promoting heart and vessel health, exercise may contribute to a deceleration of dementia progression.

Cataract surgery

An 20-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, found that getting cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.

While this study focused on one common cause for loss of eyesight, another study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.

Losing eyesight at an older age can lead a person to withdraw from their circle of friends and stop doing things they love. Further studies have explored connections between social isolation and worsening dementia.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of cataracts, don’t just ignore them. If you can take steps to improve your vision, you’ll also be protecting yourself against the progression of dementia.

Hearing aids

Untreated hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline. In a study similar to the cataract research, researchers provided hearing aids to 2000 participants with hearing loss and assessed cognitive decline progression using the same methodology.

The outcomes were remarkably noteworthy. The group equipped with hearing aids experienced a 75% reduction in the rates of dementia progression. In essence, any ongoing dementia they might have been experiencing was nearly halted.

Several probable explanations exist for this significant effect.

  1. The social component. Individuals with untreated hearing loss often isolate themselves socially, finding it challenging to engage with friends during social clubs and events.
  2. When a person slowly begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, it allows this degeneration to extend into other regions of the brain.

In fact, researchers have conducted MRI comparisons of the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss and those who use hearing aids. The findings reveal that individuals with untreated hearing loss undergo brain shrinkage, posing a negative impact on memory and cognitive functions.

If you have hearing aids, wear them to reduce your risk of dementia. If you have hearing loss and are hesitant to get hearing aids, it’s time to talk to a hearing specialist.

Find a hearing specialist near you to explore today’s technology that can help you hear better.

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