It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees start to be a little more sore. Some sagging of the skin begins to occur in certain places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both begin to fade a little. These signs are difficult to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might acknowledge that your memory isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you need to begin writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But regrettably, you might not even detect this slow onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological consequence can often exacerbate this decline.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you age. And the good news is, these exercises can be downright fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
The majority of individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a wide variety of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of mental decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the risk of cognitive 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. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this is not very good for your cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is frequently the outcome of untreated hearing loss. Due to this lack of social connection, you can begin to detect cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And the corresponding risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual who has untreated hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can considerably limit those risks. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to enhance cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to develop your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So here are some fun ways to exercise your brain and improve your sharpness.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and satisfying hobby. A unique combination of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also improve your cognitive function. This happens for several reasons:
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to assess the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues like depression and anxiety at bay.
- You get a bit of moderate physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables 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 wishes!
Arts and crafts
You don’t need to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or maybe you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that is important when it comes to exercising the brain, not as much the specific medium. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- You need to make use of many fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being done by your nervous system and brain. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will need to engage your imagination to do that. This involves a ton 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 will need to keep your attention engaged in the activity you’re doing. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by engaging in this type of real time thinking.
Your level of talent doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re creating a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. What matters is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, it’s always fun to jump into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering 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 need to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, slamming into someone else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
Your mind also has to be aware of rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before you need to breathe? Things like that. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s going on in the back of your brain. Plus, physical exercise of any sort can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are designed to help you concentrate on your thinking. In this way, meditation can:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
You can become even more conscious of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
It’s great for you to read! And it’s also quite enjoyable. There’s that old saying: a book can take anywhere. The bottom of the ocean, the ancient past, outer space, you can travel anywhere in a book. When you’re following along with a story, manifesting landscapes in your imagination, and mentally creating characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. In this way, reading activates a massive part of your brain. You’re forced to think a great deal and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is reading. Imagination is needed to picture what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a satisfying dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t actually make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you take a little time every day reading and building your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss managed
Even if you do everything correctly, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of mental decline. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
When are able to have 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 thinking, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing assessment.