It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to get some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees begin to be a little more sore. Your skin becomes a bit droopy in places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both begin to diminish a bit. It’s pretty hard not to notice these changes.
But the impact aging has on the mind isn’t always so apparent. You might acknowledge that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you need to begin writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss important events or forget what you were doing more frequently. The trouble is that this type of mental decline occurs so slowly and gradually that you might never realize it. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can often worsen this decline.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And you might even have some fun!
The connection between cognition and hearing
There are numerous reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older. This can lead to a higher risk of cognitive decline. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research points to a number of hidden risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when somebody has untreated hearing loss. The brain might assign some resources, but overall, this isn’t very good for cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re speaking less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Neglected hearing loss can also result in depression and other mental health issues. And having these mental health concerns can increase the corresponding danger of mental decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody with untreated hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can substantially lessen those risks. And those risks can be reduced even more by improving your general brain function or cognition. A little preventative management can go a long way.
How to improve cognitive function
So how do you approach giving your brain the workout it needs to strengthen cognitive function? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other body part: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So here are some enjoyable ways to exercise your brain and increase your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are some reasons why:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You get a bit of modest physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving containers of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and examine the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits 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 enjoyed by anybody regardless of artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or you can take up pottery and make a cool clay pot! With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) tap into your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Here are several reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You need to make use of numerous fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing a lot of work. That kind 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. This involves a great deal of brain power! There are a few activities that stimulate your imagination in just this way, so it offers a unique kind 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 cognitive processes limber and versatile.
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. What matters is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, it’s always enjoyable to hop into the pool (particularly 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.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with 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? Things like that. Even if this type of thinking is going on in the background of your brain, it’s still excellent mental exercise. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you take part in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just some time for you and your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. These “mindfulness” meditation methods are designed to help you focus on your thinking. In this way, meditation can:
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
In other words, 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 quite enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. In a book, you can go everywhere, like outer space, the ancient world, or the depths of the ocean. Consider all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. This is how reading engages a massive part of your brain. You’re forced to think quite a bit and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to improve 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 sweet dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Take some time each day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you prefer. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Even if you do everything correctly, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of mental decline. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be struggling uphill, unless you manage your hearing loss.
When are able to have your hearing managed (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these enjoyable brain exercises will help increase your cognition. Improving your memory, your thoughts, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.