It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints begin to stiffen. Your skin becomes a little saggy in places. Perhaps you start to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty hard not to notice these changes.
But the impact aging has on the mind is not always so obvious. You might observe that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you need to start noting important dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss significant events or forget what you were doing more often. But regrettably, you may not even detect this gradual onset. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently exacerbate this decline.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And you might even have some fun!
What’s the connection between hearing and mental cognition
There are a number of reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older. The risk of mental decline will then increase. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of mental decline? Research reveals a number of invisible risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when somebody has untreated hearing loss. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but generally speaking, this isn’t very good for your mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social isolation. Because of this lack of social interaction, you can start to detect cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health issues can boost the corresponding risk of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody with neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be reduced even more by increasing your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Increasing cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to increase your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and kind of exercise you do go a long way. So here are some enjoyable ways to exercise your brain and boost your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and satisfying hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This happens for a number of reasons:
- Gardening involves modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving containers 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 you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. 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 enjoyed by anyone regardless of artistic ability. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or perhaps you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that is important with regard to exercising the brain, not so much the specific medium. 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 getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You have to use lots of fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being done by your nervous system and brain. That kind of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will need to employ your imagination to do that. This requires a lot of brain power! There are a number of activities that stimulate your imagination in just this way, so it provides a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing while you do it. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive 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 mind sharp.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a number of ways! Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). 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 smash into anyone else in the pool!
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? Things like that. This is still an excellent cognitive exercise even if it’s happening in the background of your mind. Also, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow cognitive decline.
Spending a little peaceful solo time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these methods are designed to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
You can become even more aware of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is great for you! And it’s also really fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can go anywhere, including outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, creating landscapes in your imagination, and mentally creating characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. A big portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. You’re forced to think a great deal and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is reading. Imagination is required to envision what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really matter, 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 basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Better your cognition by getting your hearing loss managed
Neglected 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 treated (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these enjoyable brain exercises will help boost your cognition. Improving your memory, your thinking, and your social skills.
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Call us today to make an appointment for a hearing test and reconnect to life!