As your body ages, it isn’t difficult to notice the changes. You develop wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints begin to stiffen. Some sagging of the skin begins to occur in certain places. Perhaps you begin to notice some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These indicators are difficult to miss.
But the impact aging has on the mind is not always so apparent. You might find that you are having to note important 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. The difficulty is that this kind of cognitive decline takes place so slowly and gradually that you might never notice it. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
As you age, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain stay sharp. Even better, these exercises can be utterly enjoyable!
What is the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why people will gradually lose their hearing as they age. This can lead to a higher risk of cognitive decline. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research points to a number of invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this is not very good for your mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is frequently the outcome of neglected hearing loss. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Neglected hearing loss can also contribute to depression and other mental health issues. And the corresponding chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for a person with neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be reduced even more by increasing your general brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to improve 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 kind of exercise you do go a long way. So boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and satisfying hobby. A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. Here are several reasons why:
- You get a little modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving buckets of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, not all gardens have to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
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 you can take up pottery and make an awesome clay pot! It’s the process that is important with regard to exercising the brain, not so much the specific medium. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing a lot of work. That kind of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long haul.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will have to engage your imagination to do that. This involves a ton of brain power! You can activate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You will need to keep your mind engaged in the activity you’re doing. You can help your mental process remain clear and flexible by engaging in this type of real time thinking.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original fine art piece, your level of talent doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
Going for a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, a hot afternoon in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s obviously good for your physical health, there are some ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Your brain has to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anyone else in the pool!
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. How long can you be underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. Even if this kind of thinking is happening in the background of your brain, it’s still excellent cognitive exercise. Also, physical activity 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 a little time for you and your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these methods are made to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
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 ancient past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. Consider all the brain power that goes into generating 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 use your imagination when you read.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal ways to sharpen your thoughts. You have to use your memory to keep track of the story, your imagination to visualize what’s going on, and you get a nice dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Take some time each day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you like. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Manage your hearing loss to reduce cognitive risks
Disregarded hearing loss can raise your danger of mental decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t get 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 (usually with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Call us today to schedule a hearing exam and reconnect to life!