It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints begin to get stiff. Your skin gets a bit saggy in places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to fade a bit. These indicators are difficult to miss.
But it’s more difficult to see how aging impacts your mind. You might find that you’re needing to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having difficulty with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But regrettably, you might not even recognize this slow onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
As you get older, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain stay sharp. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
What’s the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they get older. The risk of mental decline will then increase. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of cognitive decline? Research points to several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. The brain might assign some resources, but overall, this is not great for mental health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re talking less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health problems and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health issues can boost the corresponding danger of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be seriously decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
How to improve cognitive function
So, how can you be sure 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 type of exercise you do go a long way. So here are some enjoyable ways to exercise your brain and increase your sharpness.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and satisfying hobby. A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. This takes place for several reasons:
- 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.
- You get a little modest physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving containers of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
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 wishes!
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. 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 as much the particular medium. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- You need to use lots of fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- 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 undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You will have to keep your mind engaged in the exercise you’re doing. This type of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and versatile.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original fine art piece, your level of talent isn’t really relevant. The most important thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
Going for a swim can help keep you healthy in a number of ways! Plus, a hot afternoon in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has mental health advantages.
Any time you’re in the pool, you have to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anyone else in the pool!
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? That sort of thing. This is still a good mental exercise even if it’s occurring in the back of your brain. And mental decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just a little time for you and your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes labeled mindfulness meditation, these practices are made to help you focus on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
Essentially, meditation can help present you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is great for you! And even more than that, it’s really enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can go anywhere, such as outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, creating landscapes in your imagination, and mentally conjuring up characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. In this way, reading engages a massive part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to sharpen the mind is reading. You have to utilize your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to picture what’s happening, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Spend some time every day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you prefer. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Better your cognition by getting your hearing loss treated
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything correctly. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you manage your hearing loss.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (usually with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.