It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to get some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees begin to be a little more sore. Some drooping of the skin begins to take place in certain places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a little. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might observe that your memory isn’t as good as it once was and that you have to begin writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But unfortunately, you may not even recognize this slow onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological effects can frequently worsen this decline.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you age. And the good news is, these exercises can be utterly enjoyable!
The connection between hearing and cognition
There are a number of reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older. This can result in a higher risk of cognitive decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the chances of cognitive decline? Research reveals a number of hidden risks of hearing loss.
- When you have untreated hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. The brain might reallocate some resources, but overall, this is not great for mental health.
- A feeling of social isolation 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 issues and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health problems can increase an associated danger of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize 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 needs to improve cognitive function? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. This takes place for several reasons:
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health concerns like depression and anxiety at bay.
- You get a little modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
The reality that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
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 with regard to exercising the brain, not as much the specific medium. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a few reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. That kind of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long run.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will need to employ your imagination to do that. This involves a ton of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing as you do it. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by engaging in this kind of real time thinking.
Your level of talent doesn’t really matter, whether you’re painting a work of art or working on 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, it’s always fun to jump into the pool (especially when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). And while it’s clearly good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Any time you’re in the pool, you need to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? 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 participate in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending some quiet alone time with your mind. As your thoughts become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also gets calm. Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these practices are made to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
You can become even more aware of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
Reading is great for you! And even more than that, it’s really enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel anywhere in a book. Think of all the brain power that goes into creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. This is how reading activates a massive part of your brain. You’re forced to think a lot and use your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to sharpen the mind is by reading. Imagination is required to picture what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you take a little time every day reading and strengthening your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss treated
Even if you do every single thing right, untreated hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of cognitive 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 thanks to a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help increase 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.