As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult to notice the changes. You develop wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints start to get stiff. Some sagging of the skin begins to occur in certain places. Maybe you start to observe some fading of your hearing and eyesight. It’s pretty hard not to see these changes.
But it’s more difficult to see how growing older impacts your mind. You may notice that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you have to start writing essential dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. The trouble is that this sort of mental decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you may never notice it. For those with hearing loss, the psychological effects can frequently worsen this decline.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. 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 gradually lose their hearing as they age. This can contribute to a higher risk of cognitive decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of cognitive decline? Research reveals a number of invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain that processes sound begins to atrophy. The brain might reallocate some resources, but in general, this isn’t very good for cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social isolation. As a result of this lack of social interaction, you can start to notice cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also bring about depression and other mental health issues. And the corresponding risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more likely for somebody who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be lowered even more by increasing your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Enhancing cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to boost your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and kind of exercise you do go a long way. So increase your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and gratifying hobby. A unique combination of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also improve your cognitive function. Here are several reasons why:
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health concerns including depression and anxiety at bay.
- Gardening requires modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving bags of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens have to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wishes!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anybody no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or perhaps you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that matters when it comes to exercising the brain, not so 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 cognitive ability because:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. That kind 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 requires a lot of brain power! You can activate 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 type of real time thinking.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original work of art, your talent level isn’t really relevant. What matters is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). And while it’s obviously good for your physical health, there are some ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you need to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to smash into anyone else in the pool!
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before you need to breathe? Things like that. Even if this type of thinking is happening in the background of your brain, it’s still very good cognitive exercise. 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. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these techniques are designed to help you focus on what you’re thinking. In this way, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
You can become even more conscious of your mental faculties by practicing meditation.
Reading is good for you! And even better than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. When you’re following along with a story, manifesting landscapes in your imagination, and mentally conjuring up characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. This is how reading engages a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to sharpen your thinking. You have to utilize your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to picture what’s happening, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
What you read doesn’t actually matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you allocate time every day reading and building your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Manage your hearing loss to improve cognitive risks
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your danger of cognitive decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
When are able to have your hearing managed (usually thanks to a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help boost your cognition. Improving your memory, your thoughts, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing assessment.