As your body ages, it’s not hard to notice the changes. You get wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints start to stiffen. Some sagging of the skin begins to happen in certain places. Perhaps you begin to detect some fading of your hearing and eyesight. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But it’s harder to see how aging affects your mind. You may find that you are needing to put important events on the calendar because you’re having difficulty with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But unfortunately, you might not even notice this slow onset. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently worsen this decline.
As you get older, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. And you might even have some fun!
The connection between hearing and cognition
The majority of individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age (for a wide variety of reasons). The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So, why does hearing loss increase the risk of cognitive decline? There are a number of hidden risk factors as revealed by research.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but generally speaking, this is not great for your cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social isolation. Because of this lack of social connection, you can start to detect cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also trigger depression and other mental health problems. And the corresponding risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for somebody with untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be seriously lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be lowered even more by improving your general brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Increasing cognitive function
So how do you accomplish giving your brain the workout it needs to improve cognitive function? 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 doing some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This happens for several reasons:
- You get a little moderate physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving containers of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety in check.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, not all gardens have to be food-focused. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wishes!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anyone regardless of artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or you can take up pottery and make a cool clay pot! With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. 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:
- You have to make use of many fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing a lot of work. Over the long run, your mental function will be healthier.
- You have to utilize your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This involves a ton of brain power! You can activate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and versatile.
Your level of talent doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re painting a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. What matters is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
Going for a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, it’s always fun to jump into the pool (particularly when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health benefits.
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 safe.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before it’s time to breathe? That kind of thing. This is still an effective cognitive exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your brain. Also, physical exercise of any kind can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down cognitive decline.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these practices are made 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 mindful of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is good for you! And it’s also quite enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take you anywhere. The bottom of the ocean, the ancient 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 part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. You’re forced to think a lot and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to improve the mind is by reading. Imagination is required to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a satisfying dose of serotonin.
Spend some time each day to develop 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!
Treat your hearing loss to minimize cognitive risks
Even if you do every little thing correctly, untreated hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of cognitive decline. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be struggling uphill, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
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.
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.