As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult to detect the changes. You get wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees start to be a little more sore. Your skin gets a bit droopy in places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both begin to fade a bit. These signs are tough to miss.
But it’s more difficult to see how aging affects your mind. You may find that you are having to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having trouble with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But sadly, you may not even recognize this slow onset. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently worsen this decline.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you get older. Even better, these exercises can be utterly enjoyable!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
There are a number of reasons why people will slowly lose their hearing as they age. The risk of mental 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 somebody has untreated hearing loss. The brain may reallocate some resources, but in general, this isn’t very good for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is frequently the outcome of untreated hearing loss. Because of this lack of social interaction, you can start to detect cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Mental health problems 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, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And, enhancing your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can decrease those risks even more. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to enhance cognitive function
So how do you approach giving your brain the workout it requires to improve mental function? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and kind of exercise you do go a long way. So increase your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be exceptionally 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. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Gardening involves moderate physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As an added bonus, you get healthy vegetables and fruits from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens need to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated 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 an awesome clay pot! With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a number of reasons why doing arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You have to use numerous fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being done by your nervous system and brain. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You have to utilize your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is required to achieve that. There are a few activities that activate your imagination in just this way, so it offers a unique type of brain exercise.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing as you do it. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original work of art, your talent level doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
There are a number of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health advantages.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anyone else in the pool!
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before you need to breathe? Things like that. This is still a good cognitive exercise even if it’s going on in the back of your mind. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you get involved 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. Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these techniques are designed to help you focus on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
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 really fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can go anywhere, like outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. In this way, reading engages a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is reading. Imagination is needed to envision what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
Take some time every day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you enjoy. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your danger of cognitive decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (typically with hearing aids).
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.