As your body ages, it isn’t difficult to notice the changes. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to get stiff. Some drooping of the skin starts to take place in certain places. Perhaps you begin to detect some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty difficult not to notice these changes.
But the impact aging has on the mind is not always so apparent. You might acknowledge that your memory isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you need to begin writing essential dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more frequently. The difficulty is that this sort of cognitive decline happens so slowly and gradually that you may never notice it. For those with hearing loss, the psychological effects can frequently exacerbate this decline.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain sharp. Even better, these exercises can be downright enjoyable!
The link between cognition and hearing
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? There are several hidden risk factors according to research.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when somebody has neglected hearing loss. The brain may assign some resources, but overall, this is not very good for cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily lead to 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.
- Neglected hearing loss can also bring about depression and other mental health problems. And having these mental health issues can boost an associated danger of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for someone with untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be seriously reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to increase cognitive function
So how do you approach giving your brain the workout it needs to strengthen mental function? 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 doing some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and satisfying hobby. A unique mix of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also improve your cognitive function. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Gardening requires moderate physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving bags of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems like depression and anxiety at bay.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, not all gardens need to be food-focused. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
You don’t need to be artistically inclined to enjoy 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! When it comes to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are several reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You need to use lots of fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing a lot of work. That kind of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long run.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This involves a ton of brain power! There are a few activities that activate your imagination in just 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 kind of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and versatile.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original fine art piece, your level of talent doesn’t really matter. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by engaging your imagination.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, it’s always fun to hop 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 cognitive health.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you need to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to smash into anybody else in the pool!
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before you need to breathe? That kind of thing. This is still an effective mental exercise even if it’s occurring in the back of your brain. Also, physical exercise of any sort can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow cognitive decline.
Spending some silent alone time with your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these methods are designed to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- 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 really fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take you anywhere. In a book, you can travel everywhere, including outer space, the ancient world, or the bottom of the ocean. 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. A huge part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. Reading isn’t possible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to sharpen the mind is by reading. You have to use your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to visualize what’s happening, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
Spend some time every day to strengthen 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 essentially as good as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss treated
Neglected hearing loss can raise your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. 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 treated (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 contacting us today for a hearing assessment.