It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to hurt a little bit more. Your skin becomes a bit saggy in places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to diminish a little. These signs are difficult to miss.
But the affect getting older has on the mind is not always so evident. You may find that you’re needing to note important events on the calendar because you’re having difficulty with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. The difficulty is that this type of mental decline happens so slowly and gradually that you may never realize it. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological effects can frequently exacerbate this decline.
As you get older, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain sharp. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely enjoyable!
The link between hearing and cognition
There are numerous reasons why people will slowly lose their hearing as they age. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So, why does hearing loss increase the chances of mental decline? Research points to several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, the part of your brain that processes sound begins to atrophy. The brain might assign some resources, but overall, this isn’t great for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social isolation is frequently the result of untreated hearing loss. As a result of this lack of social connection, 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 concerns can increase an associated danger of mental decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody with untreated hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can considerably reduce those risks. And those risks can be reduced even more by improving your overall brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to enhance cognitive function
So how do you accomplish giving your brain the workout it needs to strengthen cognitive function? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So improve your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and gratifying hobby. A unique mix of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also improve your cognitive function. This happens for a number of reasons:
- 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 great deal of great practice.
- Gardening involves moderate physical activity. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues like depression and anxiety at bay.
As an added bonus, you get healthy vegetables and fruits 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 desires!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or perhaps 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. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a number of reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires making 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 cognitive functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to make use of your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This involves a great deal of brain power! You can activate your imagination by participating in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by participating in this kind 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. The most important thing is keeping your brain sharp by stimulating your imagination.
There are a number of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s obviously good for your physical health, there are some ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Your brain has to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. Obviously, slamming into somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before you need to breathe? Things like that. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s happening in the background of your brain. Plus, physical exercise of any kind can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Spending some peaceful alone time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these methods are designed to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
Essentially, meditation can help provide you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
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. Consider all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. A huge portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. You’re forced to think quite a bit and utilize your imagination when you read.
As a result, reading is one of the best ways to sharpen your thinking. Imagination is needed to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t actually make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you devote some time every day reading and building your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Manage your hearing loss to minimize cognitive risks
Neglected hearing loss can raise your danger of mental decline, even if you do everything correctly. 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.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (typically with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Contact us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam and reconnect to life!