It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. You develop wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees start to be a little more sore. Some sagging of the skin starts to take place in certain places. Perhaps you start to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty hard not to see these changes.
But it’s more difficult to see how aging impacts your mind. You might acknowledge that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you need to begin noting important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But sadly, you may not even recognize this slow onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain sharp. And the good news is, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
There are numerous reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they get older. This can lead to a higher risk of mental decline. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are a number of silent risk factors according to research.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing begins to atrophy. The brain may reallocate some resources, but in general, this isn’t great for mental health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re speaking less, interacting less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also lead to depression and other mental health concerns. And an associated risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for someone who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to enhance cognitive function
So how do you go about giving your brain the workout it needs to increase mental function? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So here are some enjoyable ways to develop your brain and improve your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be very enjoyable all by itself (it’s also a tasty hobby). A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also enhance your cognitive function. This takes place for several reasons:
- You need to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- You get a little moderate physical activity. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems like depression and anxiety at bay.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or maybe you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters a lot less than the process. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- You have to make use of many fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing a lot of work. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is needed to accomplish that. You can activate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and versatile.
Your talent level doesn’t really matter, whether you’re creating a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. What matters is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a number 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 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, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? That sort of thing. Even if this kind of thinking is happening in the background of your brain, it’s still great mental exercise. And mental decline will advance 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 calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are made to help you focus on your thinking. In this way, meditation can:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
You can become even more conscious of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
Reading is great for you! And even better than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel everywhere, like outer space, ancient Egypt, or the depths 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 big part of your brain is involved when you’re reading. You’re forced to think a great deal and use your imagination when you read.
As a result, reading is one of the most ideal ways to sharpen your thoughts. You have to utilize your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to picture what’s happening, and you get a sweet dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
Spend some time each day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you prefer. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Better your cognition by getting your hearing loss treated
Disregarded hearing loss can raise your risk of mental decline, even if you do everything correctly. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, you’ll still be struggling uphill, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
When are able to have your hearing managed (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help boost your cognition. Improving your memory, your thoughts, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and reconnect to life!