It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to hurt a little bit more. Your skin gets a bit droopy in places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a little. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the impact aging has on the mind isn’t always so apparent. You might find that you’re needing to note important events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Maybe you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more frequently. But unfortunately, you may not even recognize this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
As you get older, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain stay clear. And you might even have some fun!
The link between hearing and cognition
Most people will gradually lose their hearing as they age (for a wide variety of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of mental decline. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research points to a number of hidden risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when somebody has untreated hearing loss. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this is not very good for your cognitive health.
- A feeling of social isolation is frequently the result of untreated hearing loss. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Neglected hearing loss can also trigger depression and other mental health problems. And the corresponding risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual who has untreated hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can considerably limit those risks. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. A little preventative management can go a long way.
Enhancing mental function
So, how can you be sure to boost your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So boost your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This occurs for a number of reasons:
- Gardening involves modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving bags 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 ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You have to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to analyze the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens need to be food-focused. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
You don’t need to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or you can get started with pottery and make a cool clay pot! With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed 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 lots of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing lots of work. Over the long run, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will need to engage your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is needed to accomplish that. There are a few activities that activate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You will have to keep your attention engaged in the activity you’re doing. You can help your cognitive process remain 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. What matters is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a number of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s clearly good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re swimming in the pool. Obviously, slamming into someone else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. This is still an effective mental exercise even if it’s happening in the back of your mind. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you get involved in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending a little silent alone time with your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation methods are made to help you focus on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
In other words, meditation can help present you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s good for you to read! And even better than that, it’s fun. There’s that old saying: a book can take you anywhere. In a book, you can go everywhere, like outer space, the ancient world, or the depths of the ocean. Consider all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. This is how reading activates a massive part of your brain. Reading isn’t possible without employing your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Hence, one of the very best ways to improve the mind is reading. You have to use your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to picture what’s going on, and you get a sweet dose of serotonin when you finish 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 managed
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your danger of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
When you do get your hearing managed (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help increase your cognition. Improving your memory, your thoughts, and your social skills.
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and reconnect to life!