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. Some drooping of the skin starts to happen in certain places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both begin to fade a little. These indicators are tough to miss.
But the impact aging has on the mind is not always so evident. You might find that you are needing to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But unfortunately, you might not even notice this slow onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological consequence can often exacerbate this decline.
As you get older, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. And the good news is, these exercises can be utterly fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
There are numerous reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they age. The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research reveals several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when someone has untreated hearing loss. The brain might assign some resources, but in general, this isn’t very good for mental health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social isolation. This isolation means you’re talking less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also trigger depression and other mental health problems. And having these mental health problems can increase the corresponding risk of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody who has neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be reduced even more by boosting your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative management can go a long way.
Strengthening mental function
So how do you approach giving your brain the workout it requires to increase cognitive function? Well, the good news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So here are some fun ways to develop your brain and improve your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a number of reasons why:
- You get a little moderate physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or maybe you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. When it comes 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 a few reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. That type of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to utilize your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is required to achieve that. You can activate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You will need to keep your mind engaged in the exercise you’re doing. You can help your cognitive process stay clear and flexible by engaging in this kind of real time thinking.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original fine art piece, your level of talent isn’t really relevant. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by stimulating your imagination.
There are a number of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). 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.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. Obviously, slamming into someone else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
Your mind also has to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? That sort of thing. This is still an excellent cognitive exercise even if it’s occurring in the back of your mind. Also, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Just a little time for you and your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also gets calm. These “mindfulness” meditation methods are designed to help you focus on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
You can become even more conscious of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
It’s good for you to read! And it’s also quite enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel everywhere, like outer space, the ancient world, or the depths of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or visualizing characters. A huge portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
Hence, one of the very best ways to sharpen the mind is by reading. Imagination is needed to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a satisfying dose of serotonin.
Take some time each day to build 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 basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by getting your hearing loss addressed
Even if you do every single thing correctly, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing 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 an uphill battle.
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 assessment.