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 start to be a little more sore. Some drooping of the skin begins to occur in certain places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to diminish a little. It’s pretty hard not to see these changes.
But it’s harder to see how aging impacts your mind. You may notice that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you have to start noting significant dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss important events or forget what you were doing more frequently. But regrettably, you might not even detect this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological impact.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. And you might even have some fun!
What’s the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age. This can contribute to a higher risk of mental decline. So, why does hearing loss increase the danger of mental decline? Research points to a number of hidden risks of hearing loss.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. The brain may assign some resources, but in general, this is not very good for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the outcome of untreated hearing loss. This isolation means you’re speaking less, interacting less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Neglected hearing loss can also bring about depression and other mental health problems. And having these mental health issues can increase the corresponding danger of cognitive decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for someone who has untreated hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can substantially reduce those risks. And those risks can be decreased even more by increasing your general brain function or cognition. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Enhancing mental function
So, how can you be certain to boost your cognitive 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 improve your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be incredibly rewarding all by itself (it’s also a delicious hobby). A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. Here are several reasons why:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You get a little moderate physical exercise. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to utilize planning skills, problem solving skills, and examine the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
The reality that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an added bonus. 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 anyone regardless of artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or you can get started with pottery and make a cool clay pot! It’s the process that matters with regard to exercising the brain, not so much the specific medium. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are several reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing a lot of work. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will need to employ your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is needed to accomplish that. You can stimulate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by participating in this kind of real time thinking.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original fine art piece, your talent level doesn’t really matter. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by stimulating your imagination.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (particularly when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). And while it’s obviously good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your mental health.
Any time 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 safe.
Your mind also has to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? That kind of thing. Even if this kind of thinking is happening in the background of your brain, it’s still excellent mental exercise. Plus, physical activity of any kind can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow cognitive decline.
Spending some peaceful solo time with your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation methods are made to help you concentrate on your thinking. In this way, 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.
Reading is great for you! And even better 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 everywhere in a book. 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. Reading isn’t possible without employing your imagination and thinking a great deal.
As a result, reading is one of the best ways to focus your thinking. You have to use your memory to monitor 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 really matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you spend some time each day reading and building your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are essentially as good as reading with your eyes.
Treat your hearing loss to lessen cognitive risks
Even if you do every single thing right, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of mental 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.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will improve once you have your hearing loss dealt with (normally with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing exam.