As your body ages, it isn’t difficult to detect the changes. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to be a little more sore. Your skin becomes a little droopy in places. Maybe you start to notice some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These signs are hard to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind is not always so evident. You may acknowledge that your memory isn’t as good as it once was and that you need to start writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But unfortunately, you might not even detect this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And you might even have some fun!
What’s the connection between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age. The risk of mental decline will then increase. So, why does loss of hearing increase the chances of cognitive decline? There are several hidden risk factors according to research.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. The brain might assign some resources, but in general, this is not great for mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social isolation. Because of this lack of social interaction, you can start to notice cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Mental health problems and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And the corresponding chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be seriously lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Strengthening mental function
So how do you accomplish giving your brain the workout it requires to improve mental function? Well, the good news is that your brain is like any other body part: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and gratifying hobby. A unique mix of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues such as depression and anxiety at bay.
- You get a little modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving containers of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
- You need to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to analyze the situation using planning and problem solving skills.
The reality that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, not all gardens have to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or perhaps you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that matters with regard to exercising the brain, not as much the specific medium. That’s because arts and crafts (drawing, sculpting, building) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. Even if it feels like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long run.
- You have to make use of your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This involves a ton of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by participating in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. 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 create your own original fine art piece, your talent level isn’t really relevant. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by stimulating your imagination.
Going for a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. 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.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, slamming into somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. Even if this kind of thinking is happening in the background of your brain, it’s still very good cognitive exercise. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you get involved in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending some peaceful solo time with your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation practices are designed to help you concentrate on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
Essentially, 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, such as outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or visualizing characters. In this way, reading activates a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think quite a bit and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the best ways to improve the mind is by reading. Imagination is needed to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
Spend some time every day to build 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 having your hearing loss treated
Even if you do every little thing correctly, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of cognitive decline. But if you don’t have 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 (usually with hearing aids).
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing assessment.