As your body gets older, it’s not hard to notice the changes. You get wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees begin to be a little more sore. Your skin becomes a bit droopy in places. Perhaps you begin to detect some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty hard not to see these changes.
But the impact getting older has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might acknowledge that your memory isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you have to start noting essential dates on your calendar. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. The trouble is that this kind of cognitive decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you may never realize it. For those with hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently exacerbate this decline.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you age. And the good news is, these exercises can be utterly fun!
What’s the connection between hearing and mental cognition
Most individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they get older (for a wide variety of reasons). The risk of mental decline will then increase. So, why does loss of hearing increase the chances of mental decline? Research points to a number of hidden 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 very good for your mental health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health concerns can increase an associated risk of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for a person who has untreated hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can substantially lessen those risks. And, enhancing your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can minimize those risks even more. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Improving mental function
So, how can you be certain to increase your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the good news is that your brain is the same as any other body part: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So improve your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and rewarding hobby. A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. This occurs for a number of reasons:
- You get a bit of moderate physical activity. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- 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.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anybody no matter the artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or you can take up pottery and make a cool clay pot! It’s the process that is important with regard to exercising the brain, not as much the particular medium. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a few reasons why doing arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- You have to make use of numerous fine motor skills. Even if it feels like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This requires a great deal of brain power! There are a few activities that activate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique type of brain exercise.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing as you do it. You can help your cognitive process stay clear and flexible by engaging in this kind of real time thinking.
Your talent level doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re painting a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
Going for a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, it’s always enjoyable to hop into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). And while it’s obviously good for your physical health, there are some ways that swimming can also be good for your mental health.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you need 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!
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before it’s time to breathe? That sort of thing. This is still a good mental exercise even if it’s occurring in the background of your brain. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you get involved in physical activity 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 methods are made to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
In other words, meditation can help provide you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is great for you! And it’s also really fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel everywhere, such as outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. A big part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to sharpen your thoughts. Imagination is needed to picture 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 enjoy. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss treated
Even if you do everything right, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of cognitive decline. 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 get better once you have your hearing loss treated (usually with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.