As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult to detect the changes. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints start to get stiff. Some drooping of the skin begins to take place in certain places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a little. It’s pretty hard not to see these changes.
But the impact aging has on the mind is not always so obvious. You might observe that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you have to start writing important dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss important events or lose your train of thought more frequently. But sadly, you might not even notice this slow onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
There are numerous reasons why people will gradually lose their hearing as they get older. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So, why does hearing loss increase the chances of mental decline? There are a number of silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when somebody has untreated hearing loss. The brain may reallocate some resources, but in general, this isn’t great for mental health.
- A feeling of social isolation is frequently the consequence of neglected hearing loss. This isolation means you’re speaking less, socializing less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, indirectly. But neglected hearing loss can raise your risk of cognitive decline, up to and including dementia. Those risks, however, can be greatly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be lowered even more by enhancing your overall brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Enhancing cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to develop your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other body part: you can always achieve improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So improve your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and rewarding hobby. A unique mix of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also enhance your cognitive function. This occurs for several reasons:
- You get a bit of modest physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The reality that you get healthy fruits and vegetables 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
You don’t need to be artistically inclined to enjoy arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or maybe you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters a lot less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (drawing, 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 the use of fine motor skills. And while that may 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 need to process sensory input in real time and you will have to employ your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is needed to achieve that. You can stimulate your imagination by engaging 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 mental processes limber and flexible.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original fine art piece, your talent level isn’t really relevant. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by engaging your imagination.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a number of ways! Plus, a hot afternoon in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s clearly good for your physical health, there are some ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Any time 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 anybody else in the pool!
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. This is still an effective cognitive exercise even if it’s happening in the background of your mind. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you participate in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just a little time for you and your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes labeled mindfulness meditation, these practices are designed to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
You can become even more conscious of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
Reading is good for you! And even more than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can go everywhere, including outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with 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 use your imagination when you read.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal ways to focus your thinking. You have to use your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to picture what’s going on, and you get a sweet dose of serotonin when you complete 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! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Manage your hearing loss to improve cognitive risks
Even if you do every little thing right, untreated hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of mental decline. 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 improve once you have your hearing loss treated (normally with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing assessment.