It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to get stiff. Some sagging of the skin starts to take place in certain places. Maybe you begin to detect some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These signs are hard to miss.
But it’s more difficult to see how aging affects your mind. You might observe that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you need to start noting significant dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss significant events or forget what you were doing more frequently. The trouble is that this kind of mental decline occurs so slowly and gradually that you might never notice it. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you age. And you might even have some fun!
What is the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are a number of reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research reveals several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. The brain may reallocate some resources, but in general, this isn’t great for mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is frequently the consequence of neglected hearing loss. Due to this lack of social interaction, you can begin to notice cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also result in depression and other mental health problems. And having these mental health issues can increase the corresponding danger of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual with neglected hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can considerably lessen those risks. 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 improve cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to increase your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So here are a few enjoyable ways to develop your brain and improve your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and satisfying hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You get a little modest physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
- You need to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to utilize 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 added bonus. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anybody no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or you can take up pottery and make a cool clay pot! It’s the process that is important when it comes to exercising the brain, not as much the specific medium. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. Over the long haul, your cognitive function will be healthier.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This requires a lot of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You will have to keep your attention engaged in the exercise you’re doing. You can help your mental process stay clear and flexible by participating in this type of real time thinking.
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 using 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 jump into the pool (especially when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health advantages.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you need to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anybody else in the pool!
You also have to think about your rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? Things like that. Even if this kind of thinking is occurring in the background of your mind, it’s still very good mental exercise. Plus, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down cognitive decline.
Spending some silent alone time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also gets calm. Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these methods are made to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is good for you! And even more than that, it’s really enjoyable. 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 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 activates a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal ways to focus your thoughts. Imagination is required to picture what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a satisfying dose of serotonin.
Spend some time every day to build your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you like. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Better your cognition by having your hearing loss managed
Neglected hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, you’ll still be struggling uphill, unless you manage your hearing loss.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will improve once you have your hearing loss dealt with (normally with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Contact us today to schedule a hearing exam and reconnect to life!