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. Your skin gets a bit saggy in places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a little. These indicators are difficult to miss.
But it’s harder to see how aging impacts your mind. You may acknowledge that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you have to begin writing essential dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss important events or forget what you were doing more often. The trouble is that this sort of mental decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you may never detect it. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can often exacerbate this decline.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain sharp. And the good news is, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
What is the link between hearing and mental cognition
Most people will slowly lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are a number of hidden risk factors according to research.
- When you have untreated hearing loss, the portion of your brain that processes sound starts to atrophy. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but generally speaking, this is not very good for your mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Neglected hearing loss can also bring about depression and other mental health issues. And having these mental health issues can boost the corresponding danger of cognitive decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But neglected hearing loss can raise your risk of mental decline, up to and including dementia. Those risks, however, can be greatly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Strengthening cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to increase your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be exceptionally enjoyable all on its own (it’s also a tasty hobby). Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This happens for several reasons:
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety at bay.
- Gardening requires moderate physical activity. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an additional 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. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or you can get started with pottery and make an awesome clay pot! It’s the process that matters when it comes to exercising the brain, not as much the particular medium. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. Even if it feels like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. That kind of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long run.
- You have to make use of your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This requires a lot of brain power! There are a few activities that activate your imagination in exactly this way, so it offers a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You will need to keep your attention engaged in the task you’re doing. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and versatile.
Whether you get 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 mind sharp.
There are a number of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, it’s always fun to jump into the pool (especially when it’s so unrelentingly 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 mental health.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anyone else in the pool!
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before you need to breathe? Things like that. This is still an excellent cognitive exercise even if it’s happening in the back of your mind. And mental decline will progress more slowly when you participate in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm 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. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
You can become even more aware of your mental faculties by practicing meditation.
Reading is great for you! And it’s also really fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take you anywhere. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel anywhere in a book. 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 activates a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to sharpen the mind is by reading. You have to utilize your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to visualize what’s going on, and you get a nice dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
Take some time every day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you like. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by getting your hearing loss managed
Even if you do every little thing right, untreated 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 treated (normally with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.