As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult 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 occur in certain places. Perhaps you start to notice some fading of your hearing and eyesight. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the impact getting older has on the mind isn’t always so evident. You may find that you are needing to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having trouble with your memory. Maybe you miss important events or lose your train of thought more often. But sadly, you may not even recognize this slow onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can work out your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you get older. And you might even have some fun!
The link between hearing and cognition
Most people will slowly lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of mental decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of cognitive decline? Research reveals several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing begins to atrophy. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but generally speaking, this isn’t great for your cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re talking less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also contribute to depression and other mental health issues. And having these mental health concerns can increase the corresponding danger of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual with neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Strengthening cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to increase your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So here are a few fun ways to exercise your brain and increase your sharpness.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are several reasons why:
- You have to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to analyze the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You get a little moderate physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
You don’t need to be artistically inclined to enjoy arts and crafts. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or perhaps you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters a lot less than the process. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a few reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You have to use many 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. Over the long run, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will have to employ your imagination to do that. This requires a lot of brain power! You can activate your imagination by participating in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing as you do it. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and versatile.
Your talent level doesn’t really matter, whether you’re creating a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. What counts is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
There are a number of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, it’s always enjoyable to jump into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering 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.
Your brain has 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!
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before you need to breathe? Things like that. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your brain. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you participate in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending a little peaceful alone time with your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these methods 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 aware of your mental faculties by practicing meditation.
It’s great for you to read! 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 ancient past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. Think of all the brain power that goes into creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or visualizing characters. This is how reading activates a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think a lot and use your imagination when you read.
Hence, one of the best ways to improve the mind is by reading. Imagination is needed to visualize what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
Spend some time each day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you like. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as good as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Disregarded hearing loss can raise your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
When you do get your hearing managed (usually thanks to a hearing aid or two), all of these enjoyable brain exercises will help boost your cognition. Improving your memory, your thinking, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing assessment.