It’s easy to observe 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 start to hurt a little bit more. Some drooping of the skin begins to take place in certain places. Maybe you begin to observe some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These indicators are hard to miss.
But the affect getting older has on the mind is not always so evident. You might observe that your memory isn’t as good as it once was and that you have to begin writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss important events or forget what you were doing more often. The difficulty is that this sort of mental decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you may never realize it. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
As you age, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain stay sharp. And you may even have some fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
Most individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of cognitive decline. So, why does hearing loss increase the chances of mental decline? There are several silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. The brain may assign some resources, but overall, this is not great for cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social isolation. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health problems and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for somebody with neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can decrease those risks even more. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Improving cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to increase your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the good news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be exceptionally enjoyable all by itself (it’s also a delicious hobby). Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This happens for a number of reasons:
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to utilize planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- You get a bit of modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens need to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anybody no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or perhaps you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that counts when it comes to exercising the brain, not as much the specific medium. That’s because arts and crafts (drawing, sculpting, building) tap into your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Here are a few reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. That type of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long haul.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will need to engage your imagination to do that. This requires a lot of brain power! There are a few activities that stimulate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique type of brain exercise.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing while you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Your talent level doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re creating a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most important thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health benefits.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to smash into anyone else in the pool!
Your mind also has to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? Things like that. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your brain. Plus, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Spending some silent solo time with your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation methods are designed to help you focus on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
Put simply, meditation can help present you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s great for you to read! And even better than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel anywhere, such as outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, manifesting landscapes in your imagination, and mentally creating characters, you’re using lots of brain power. In this way, reading engages a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t possible without employing your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Hence, one of the best ways to improve the mind is reading. You have to use your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to visualize what’s going on, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Spend some time each day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you like. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss treated
Even if you do everything correctly, neglected hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of cognitive decline. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will improve once you have your hearing loss dealt with (usually with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing assessment.