It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to get some wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints start to stiffen. Your skin gets a bit droopy in places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both start to diminish a bit. It’s pretty hard not to notice these changes.
But the affect aging has on the mind is not always so obvious. You may observe that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you have to start writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But unfortunately, you may not even notice this slow onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
There are a number of reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older. This can lead to a higher risk of mental decline. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research reveals several hidden risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when somebody has untreated hearing loss. The brain might reallocate some resources, but in general, this is not very good for cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social isolation. Due to this lack of social connection, you can begin to detect cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- 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 challenges.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody with neglected hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can considerably reduce those risks. And, enhancing your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
How to increase cognitive function
So how do you go about giving your brain the workout it needs to improve mental function? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other body part: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Cultivating 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 occurs for a number of reasons:
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems including depression and anxiety in check.
- You need to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to analyze the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening requires moderate physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving containers of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens need 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 appreciated by anybody no matter the artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or maybe you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that matters with regard to exercising the brain, not so much the particular medium. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing a lot of work. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to manage 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. You can activate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You will need to keep your attention engaged in the exercise you’re doing. You can help your mental process remain clear and flexible by participating in this kind of real time thinking.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your level of talent doesn’t really matter. What counts is that you’re using your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay 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.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to smash into anyone else in the pool!
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before you need to breathe? That sort of thing. This is still an effective cognitive exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your mind. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending some quiet alone time with your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these techniques are made to help you focus on what you’re thinking. In this way, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
In other words, meditation can help present you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is great for you! And even better than that, it’s fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel anywhere in a book. Think of all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or conjuring characters. In this way, reading activates a massive part of your brain. You’re forced to think quite a bit and use your imagination when you read.
Hence, one of the best ways to improve the mind is by reading. 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 rewarding dose of serotonin.
Take some time every day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you prefer. And, for the record, audiobooks are essentially as effective as reading with your eyes.
Treat your hearing loss to minimize cognitive risks
Even if you do everything right, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of cognitive 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.
When are able to have 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 thoughts, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and reconnect to life!