It’s easy to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to get some wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees begin to hurt a little bit more. Your skin becomes a little saggy in places. Maybe you start to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These signs are tough to miss.
But the affect getting older has on the mind isn’t always so evident. You may observe that your memory isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you need to begin noting important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more often. The trouble is that this sort of mental decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you might never realize it. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological impact.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you get older. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
The link between cognition and hearing
Most individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a number of reasons). The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing begins to atrophy. The brain might reallocate some resources, but overall, this isn’t very good for mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social isolation. Due to this lack of social connection, you can begin to notice cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also lead to depression and other mental health concerns. And having these mental health issues can boost an associated risk of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But untreated hearing loss can raise your risk of cognitive decline, up to and including dementia. Treating your hearing loss can substantially limit those risks. And those risks can be lowered even more by enhancing your overall brain function or cognition. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Increasing cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to increase your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the good news is that your brain is the same as any other body part: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be incredibly rewarding all by itself (it’s also a tasty hobby). A unique combination of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also enhance your cognitive function. This takes place for a number of reasons:
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You get a bit of modest physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving containers of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to enjoy arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or perhaps you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that matters when it comes to exercising the brain, not as much the particular medium. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- You need to make use of numerous fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will need to engage your imagination to do that. This involves a lot of brain power! You can activate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. You can help your cognitive process stay clear and flexible by participating in this type of real time thinking.
Your talent level doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re creating a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by engaging your imagination.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, a hot afternoon in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s obviously good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Your brain has to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re swimming in the pool. After all, you don’t want to collide with anyone else in the pool!
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. Even if this type of thinking is occurring in the background of your mind, it’s still great mental exercise. Also, physical exercise of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down cognitive decline.
Spending a little silent alone time with your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these practices are made to help you focus on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
You can become even more conscious of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
It’s good for you to read! And even more than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can go everywhere, such as outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or visualizing characters. In this way, reading engages a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t possible without employing your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is by reading. Imagination is required to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you devote some time each day reading and strengthening your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are essentially as good as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by getting your hearing loss managed
Neglected hearing loss can raise your danger of mental decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (typically with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Call us today to make an appointment for a hearing test and reconnect to life!