As your body ages, it’s not hard to detect the changes. You develop wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to stiffen. Some drooping of the skin begins to take place in certain places. Perhaps you start to notice some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These indicators are hard to miss.
But the impact aging has on the mind isn’t always so evident. You may find that you are needing to note significant events on the calendar because you’re having trouble with your memory. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But sadly, you might not even notice this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you get older. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely enjoyable!
The connection between cognition and hearing
There are a number of reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age. The risk of cognitive 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 may assign some resources, but in general, this is not very good for cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social separation. Due to this lack of social connection, 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 concerns. And the corresponding chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But untreated hearing loss can raise your risk of mental decline, up to and including dementia. Those risks, however, can be significantly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Strengthening cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to enhance your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other part of the body: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So here are a few enjoyable ways to develop your brain and boost your sharpness.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be extremely satisfying all by itself (it’s also a delicious hobby). Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. This takes place for a number of reasons:
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to utilize planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You get a little moderate physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, not all gardens need to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wants!
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or you can take up pottery and make an awesome clay pot! It’s the process that counts when it comes to exercising the brain, not so much the particular medium. Because your critical thinking abilities, 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:
- You have to make use of numerous fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will have to employ your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is required to accomplish that. There are a number of activities that activate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique type of brain exercise.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your talent level isn’t really relevant. What counts is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has mental health benefits.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re swimming in the pool. Obviously, slamming into someone else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before it’s time to breathe? That sort of thing. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s going on in the back of your brain. Also, physical exercise of any kind can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow cognitive decline.
Spending a little peaceful solo time with your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these methods are designed to help you focus on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
Put simply, meditation can help give you even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s great for you to read! And it’s also really fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel anywhere, such as outer space, the ancient world, or the bottom of the ocean. Consider all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or visualizing characters. This is how reading engages a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to focus your thoughts. You have to utilize your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to visualize what’s going on, and you get a sweet dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you take a little time every day reading and building your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Better your cognition by getting your hearing loss treated
Even if you do every single thing 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 you do get your hearing managed (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help increase your cognition. Improving your memory, your thoughts, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Call us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam and reconnect to life!