It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees begin to hurt a little bit more. Your skin becomes a bit droopy in places. Maybe you start to detect some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These signs are hard to miss.
But the affect getting older has on the mind is not always so obvious. You might find that you are needing to note significant events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Maybe you miss important events or lose your train of thought more frequently. The difficulty is that this kind of cognitive decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you might never realize it. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And the good news is, these exercises can be absolutely enjoyable!
What is the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are a number of reasons why people will gradually lose their hearing as they age. The risk of mental decline will then increase. So, why does loss of hearing increase the risk of mental decline? Research points to a number of invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, the part of your brain that processes sound starts to atrophy. The brain may reallocate some resources, but overall, this isn’t great for mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the outcome of neglected hearing loss. This isolation means you’re speaking less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health problems and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And an associated risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, not directly. But untreated hearing loss can increase your risk of mental decline, up to and including dementia. Treating your hearing loss can considerably lessen those risks. And, boosting 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 can you be sure to improve your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, like any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and gratifying hobby. A unique combination of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also improve your cognitive function. Here are a number of reasons why:
- You get a little modest physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the ground 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.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues including depression and anxiety in check.
- 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.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anybody no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or maybe you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. When it comes to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Here are a number of reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You have to use numerous 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. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This requires a great deal of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by participating in these unique brain exercises.
- You will have to keep your mind engaged in the exercise you’re doing. You can help your mental process stay 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 painting a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by stimulating your imagination.
Going for a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, a hot afternoon in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health advantages.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re swimming in the pool. After all, you don’t want to smash into anybody else in the pool!
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 an excellent mental exercise even if it’s occurring in the background 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 cognitive decline.
Just some time for you and your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also gets calm. These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are designed to help you concentrate on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
You can become even more conscious of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
It’s great for you to read! And even more than that, it’s fun. There’s that old saying: a book can take anywhere. In a book, you can go anywhere, like outer space, ancient Egypt, or the depths of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or visualizing characters. A large part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, one of the best ways to improve the mind is by reading. You have to use your memory to keep track of the story, your imagination to visualize what’s happening, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you take a little time every day reading and strengthening your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Treat your hearing loss to minimize cognitive risks
Neglected hearing loss can raise your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. But if you don’t have your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be an uphill battle.
When are able to have your hearing treated (usually because of 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.
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing assessment.