It’s easy to notice how your body ages over time. You develop wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees start to be a little more sore. Your skin becomes a little droopy in places. Maybe you start to detect some fading of your hearing and eyesight. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the affect getting older has on the mind is not always so obvious. You may find that you’re having to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But regrettably, you might not even notice this gradual onset. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently exacerbate this decline.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you age. And the good news is, these exercises can be downright enjoyable!
What’s the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several silent risk factors according to research.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this is not great for your cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re talking less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health problems and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And the corresponding chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But neglected hearing loss can increase your risk of mental decline, up to and including dementia. Treating your hearing loss can significantly limit those risks. And those risks can be reduced even more by improving your overall brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to increase cognitive function
So how do you go about giving your brain the workout it requires to increase cognitive function? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So here are some fun ways to exercise your brain and boost your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be very enjoyable all by itself (it’s also a tasty hobby). Your cognition can be improved with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This occurs for a number of reasons:
- You get a little moderate physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems such as depression and anxiety at bay.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and examine the situation. This gives your brain a great deal 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 wishes!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or you can take up pottery and make an awesome 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:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing lots of work. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will have to employ your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is required to achieve that. You can activate your imagination by participating in these unique brain exercises.
- You will need to keep your attention engaged in the task you’re doing. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Your talent level doesn’t really matter, whether you’re creating a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. What matters is that you’re using your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (particularly when it’s so sweltering hot outside). But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health benefits.
Any time you’re in the pool, you need to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to smash into anybody else in the pool!
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. How long can you be underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. Even if this type of thinking is happening in the background of your mind, it’s still excellent cognitive exercise. And cognitive decline will advance more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending a little silent solo time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. These “mindfulness” meditation methods are made to help you concentrate on your 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 doing meditation.
Reading is good 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 everywhere, including outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that is involved in generating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or visualizing characters. This is how reading engages a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to focus your thoughts. Imagination is needed to envision what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you take a little time every day reading and strengthening your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss treated
Even if you do every little thing correctly, untreated hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of mental decline. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, 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 treated (normally with hearing aids).
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing test.