It’s easy to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to get some wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to stiffen. Some sagging of the skin starts to happen in certain places. Maybe you start to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty difficult not to notice these changes.
But it’s more difficult to see how growing older impacts your mind. You might find that you’re having to note significant events on the calendar because you’re having difficulty with your memory. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But regrettably, you may not even recognize this slow onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological consequence can often worsen this decline.
As you get older, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain stay sharp. And you may even have some fun!
The link between cognition and hearing
The majority of individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they get older (for a wide variety of reasons). The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research points to several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this is not great for your cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the outcome of untreated hearing loss. As a result of this lack of social interaction, you can start to notice cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also lead to depression and other mental health issues. And the corresponding risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual with neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be decreased even more by improving your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Enhancing mental function
So, how can you be sure to improve your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and kind of exercise you do go a long way. So boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be very rewarding all by itself (it’s also a delicious hobby). Your cognition can be improved with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This takes place for several reasons:
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Gardening involves moderate physical exercise. 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 fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens need to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anybody regardless of artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or perhaps 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. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a number of reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing a lot of work. Over the long run, your cognitive function will be healthier.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will have to engage your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is needed to achieve that. You can stimulate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by participating in this type of real time thinking.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your talent level doesn’t really matter. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a lot 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 mental health advantages.
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 smash into anyone else in the pool!
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. Even if this kind of thinking is occurring in the background of your brain, it’s still very good mental exercise. Plus, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow mental decline.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these techniques are made to help you focus on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
Essentially, meditation can help present you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is good for you! And even more than that, it’s really enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. The bottom of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel anywhere in a book. Consider all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. In this way, reading engages a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think a lot and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal ways to focus your thinking. 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 rewarding dose of serotonin.
Spend some time each day to build your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you like. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as good as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Even if you do everything correctly, neglected hearing loss can continue to increase 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 an uphill battle.
When are able to have your hearing managed (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.
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.