As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult to notice the changes. You get wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to get stiff. Your skin gets a bit droopy in places. Maybe you begin to notice some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty difficult not to notice these changes.
But the impact getting older has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might notice that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you have to start noting essential dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. The trouble is that this sort of cognitive decline occurs so slowly and gradually that you may never realize it. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
As you age, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain stay clear. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
What’s the connection between hearing and mental cognition
The majority of individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they get older (for a wide variety of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of mental decline. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing begins to atrophy. The brain may assign some resources, but overall, this isn’t very good for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the result of untreated hearing loss. This isolation means you’re talking less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But untreated hearing loss can raise your risk of mental decline, up to and including dementia. Treating your hearing loss can substantially limit those risks. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can decrease those risks even more. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Increasing cognitive function
So how do you go about giving your brain the workout it needs to improve mental function? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So here are some enjoyable ways to develop your brain and increase your sharpness.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and satisfying hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. Here are several reasons why:
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to assess the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- You get a bit of modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the ground 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.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in check.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens have to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wants!
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 get started with pottery and make a cool clay pot! With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters a lot 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 a number of reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve 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 haul, your cognitive function will be healthier.
- You have to utilize your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This requires a great deal of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. This kind 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 fine art piece, your level of talent doesn’t really matter. What counts is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has mental health advantages.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, slamming into somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before you need to breathe? That sort of thing. This is still a good cognitive exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your brain. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you participate in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just some time for you and your mind. As your thoughts become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. These “mindfulness” meditation practices are designed to help you concentrate on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by practicing meditation.
Reading is great for you! And even better than that, it’s fun. There’s that old saying: a book can take anywhere. The bottom of the ocean, the ancient past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. When you’re following along with a story, creating landscapes in your imagination, and mentally creating characters, you’re using lots of brain power. A large part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
Hence, one of the best ways to improve the mind is reading. You have to utilize your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to picture what’s going on, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
Spend some time each day to develop 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 addressed
Even if you do every single thing right, untreated hearing loss can keep increasing 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 an uphill battle.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (typically with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and reconnect to life!