It’s easy to observe how your body ages over time. You develop wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees begin to be a little more sore. Some drooping of the skin begins to take place in certain places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a little. It’s pretty hard not to notice these changes.
But the impact getting older has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might notice that your memory isn’t as good as it once was and that you need to begin writing essential dates on your calendar. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But sadly, you might not even detect this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
What is 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 risk of mental decline? Research reveals several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing begins to atrophy. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but generally speaking, this is not very good for your mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social isolation. As a result of this lack of social connection, 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 concerns. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for someone with neglected hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can significantly reduce those risks. And, enhancing your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to enhance cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to improve your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, like any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So improve your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You have to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and examine the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- Gardening requires modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets 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 vegetables and fruits from your hobby. Of course, you can grow lots of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anyone no matter the artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or you can take up 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) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Here are several reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- You need to make use of lots of fine motor skills. Even if it feels like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being done by your nervous system and brain. That kind of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to make use of your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is needed to achieve that. You can stimulate 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.
Your talent level doesn’t really matter, whether you’re painting a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. What matters is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a number of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s obviously good for your physical health, there are some 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. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? That kind of thing. This is still an effective mental exercise even if it’s occurring in the background of your mind. Plus, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down cognitive decline.
Spending some quiet solo time with your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation methods are designed to help you focus on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
You can become even more aware of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is great for you! And even more than that, it’s fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take you anywhere. In a book, you can go anywhere, such as outer space, the ancient world, or the depths 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. In this way, reading activates a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t possible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
Hence, one of the very best ways to improve the mind is reading. Imagination is needed to picture 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 matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you devote some time every day reading and building your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Treat your hearing loss to improve cognitive risks
Even if you do everything correctly, untreated hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of cognitive decline. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
When you do get your hearing managed (usually thanks to a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help boost your cognition. Improving your memory, your thinking, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Call us today to schedule a hearing exam and reconnect to life!