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 knees start to hurt a little bit more. Some drooping of the skin starts to occur in certain places. Perhaps you start to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty hard not to see these changes.
But the impact getting older has on the mind isn’t always so evident. You may observe that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you need to begin noting important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But sadly, you may not even detect this slow onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
As you get older, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain stay clear. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
What’s the link between hearing and mental cognition
The majority of individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they age (for a wide variety of reasons). The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So, why does loss of hearing increase the chances of cognitive decline? Research points to a number of invisible risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. The brain might reallocate some resources, but overall, this isn’t great for mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social isolation. As a result of this lack of social interaction, you can begin to notice cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also lead to depression and other mental health issues. And having these mental health issues can increase the corresponding danger of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But neglected hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, up to and including dementia. Managing your hearing loss can considerably limit those risks. And, enhancing your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. A little preventative management can go a long way.
Strengthening cognitive function
So how do you accomplish giving your brain the workout it needs to increase mental function? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So boost your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a few reasons why:
- You need to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to utilize planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- Gardening requires moderate physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the ground 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.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The reality that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, not all gardens have to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or you can get started with pottery and make an awesome clay pot! With regard 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.
Here are a number of reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires the 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 haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will need to employ your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is required to achieve that. You can activate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You will need to keep your mind engaged in the task you’re doing. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and versatile.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original fine art piece, your talent level doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
Going for a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, a hot afternoon in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health advantages.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you need to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before it’s time to breathe? That sort of thing. This is still a good cognitive exercise even if it’s occurring in the back of your mind. Plus, physical activity of any kind can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow cognitive decline.
Just a little time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation methods are designed to help you concentrate on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
Reading is good for you! And even better than that, it’s really enjoyable. There’s that old saying: a book can take you anywhere. In a book, you can go everywhere, like outer space, the ancient world, or the bottom of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, manifesting landscapes in your imagination, and mentally conjuring up characters, you’re using lots of brain power. In this way, reading engages a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think a great deal and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the best ways to improve the mind is reading. Imagination is needed to visualize what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t actually matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you devote some time each day reading and strengthening your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as good as reading with your eyes.
Manage your hearing loss to lessen cognitive risks
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your danger of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, 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.
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Contact us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam and reconnect to life!