As your body ages, it’s not hard to notice the changes. Your skin begins to get some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to get stiff. Some drooping of the skin begins to happen in certain places. Perhaps you begin to notice some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty difficult not to notice these changes.
But it’s harder to see how aging affects your mind. You may acknowledge that your memory isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you have to begin noting significant dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more frequently. The trouble is that this sort of mental decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you may never detect it. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological effects can frequently exacerbate this decline.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain sharp. And you may even have some fun!
What’s the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are a number of reasons why people will slowly lose their hearing as they age. This can result in a higher risk of cognitive decline. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are a number of silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain that processes sound begins to atrophy. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this is not very good for your mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social isolation. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also bring about depression and other mental health concerns. And an associated risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody with neglected hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can substantially lessen those risks. And those risks can be decreased even more by boosting your general brain function or cognition. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to increase cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to enhance your cognitive 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 vegetables and fruits is a tasty and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are some reasons why:
- 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.
- Gardening involves moderate physical exercise. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health concerns like depression and anxiety in check.
The reality that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, not all gardens have to be food-focused. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wants!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anyone no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or you can get started with pottery and make a cool clay pot! When it comes to exercising your brain, the medium matters a lot less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (drawing, sculpting, building) tap into your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. Over the long run, your cognitive function will be healthier.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will have to engage your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is needed to accomplish that. You can activate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and flexible.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your talent level doesn’t really matter. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by stimulating your imagination.
There are a number of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has mental health advantages.
Any time you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, colliding with someone else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
Your mind also has to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? That sort of thing. This is still a good mental exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your mind. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending a little quiet alone time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also gets calm. Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these practices are made to help you focus on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
You can become even more aware of your mental faculties by practicing meditation.
It’s great for you to read! And it’s also really fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. In a book, you can travel everywhere, including 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 a lot of brain power. In this way, reading activates a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
Hence, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is reading. Imagination is required to envision what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t actually make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you spend some time each day reading and building your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are essentially as good as reading with your eyes.
Better your cognition by getting your hearing loss addressed
Disregarded hearing loss can raise your risk of mental decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t have 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 improve once you have your hearing loss dealt with (usually with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.