It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. You develop wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to stiffen. Your skin becomes a little saggy in places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to fade a little. These indicators are difficult to miss.
But the affect getting older has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You may observe that your memory isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you have to start writing essential dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more frequently. The difficulty is that this kind of cognitive decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you may never detect it. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you age. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
The majority of individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this isn’t great for your cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social isolation. This isolation means you’re speaking less, interacting less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Neglected hearing loss can also bring about depression and other mental health issues. And the corresponding chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual with neglected hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can significantly limit those risks. And those risks can be lowered even more by improving your general brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Increasing cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to boost your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, like any other part of your body, the amount and kind of exercise you do go a long way. So improve your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and rewarding hobby. A unique mix of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also improve your cognitive function. This happens for a number of reasons:
- Gardening involves modest physical exercise. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems like depression and anxiety at bay.
- You need to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, you can grow lots of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anyone no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or perhaps you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. When it comes to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. Even if it feels 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 run.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is required to accomplish that. There are a number of activities that stimulate your imagination in just this way, so it provides a unique type of brain exercise.
- You will have to keep your mind engaged in the activity you’re doing. You can help your cognitive process stay clear and flexible by participating in this kind of real time thinking.
Your talent level doesn’t really matter, whether you’re painting a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. What counts is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, it’s always enjoyable to hop into the pool (particularly when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). And while it’s clearly good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your mental health.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re swimming in the pool. Obviously, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. How long can you be underwater before you need to breathe? That kind of thing. Even if this kind of thinking is going on in the background of your brain, it’s still very good cognitive exercise. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you get involved in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just a little time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are made to help you focus on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
In other words, meditation can help provide you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s great for you to read! And even better than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. The bottom of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. When you’re following along with a story, creating landscapes in your imagination, and mentally conjuring up characters, you’re using lots of brain power. A large portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t possible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
As a result, reading is one of the most ideal ways to focus your thoughts. Imagination is required to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
Spend some time every day to build 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!
Treat your hearing loss to improve cognitive risks
Even if you do everything right, neglected hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of cognitive decline. 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 get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (usually with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.