It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to get some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints start to stiffen. Some drooping of the skin starts to take place in certain places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to diminish a bit. It’s pretty hard not to notice these changes.
But the affect getting older has on the mind is not always so evident. You might notice that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you have to start noting essential dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss important events or lose your train of thought more often. But unfortunately, you may not even notice this slow onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological effects can frequently worsen this decline.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
What is the link between hearing and mental cognition
The majority of individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a number of reasons). The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So, why does hearing loss increase the risk of mental decline? There are a number of silent risk factors according to research.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when someone has untreated hearing loss. The brain may reallocate some resources, but overall, this is not great for cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social separation. Due to this lack of social connection, you can begin to detect cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also trigger depression and other mental health concerns. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual who has neglected hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can significantly limit those risks. And, enhancing your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Enhancing cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to boost your cognitive 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 achieve improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So here are a few fun ways to develop your brain and boost your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and rewarding hobby. A unique combination of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. This happens for several reasons:
- Gardening requires modest physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt 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.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems such as depression and anxiety at bay.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anybody regardless of artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or maybe you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) tap into your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Here are several reasons why doing arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- You need to make use of many fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing a lot of work. That type of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long run.
- 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 required to achieve that. There are a few activities that stimulate your imagination in exactly this way, so it offers a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing as you do it. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and versatile.
Your talent level doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re creating a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. What counts is that you’re using your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a number 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 needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. Obviously, slamming into somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
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 a good mental exercise even if it’s happening in the background of your brain. And mental decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just some time for you and your mind. As your thoughts become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these methods are designed to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
Essentially, meditation can help give you even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is great for you! And even more than that, it’s really enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. The floor of the ocean, the ancient past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. Consider all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or visualizing characters. A huge portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal ways to sharpen your thinking. Imagination is needed to envision what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
Take some time every day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you enjoy. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Manage your hearing loss to minimize cognitive risks
Neglected hearing loss can raise your danger of cognitive 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 improve once you have your hearing loss dealt with (typically with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing assessment.