As your body gets older, it’s not hard to detect the changes. You get wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to get stiff. Some sagging of the skin begins to take place in certain places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a little. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the impact getting older has on the mind isn’t always so apparent. You might acknowledge that your memory isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you need to start writing important dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss important events or forget what you were doing more often. The difficulty is that this kind of mental decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you might never realize it. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. Even better, these exercises can be downright enjoyable!
The link between cognition and hearing
Most individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of cognitive decline. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several hidden risk factors according to research.
- When you’re dealing with untreated 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 great for your cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social separation. As a result of this lack of social interaction, you can begin to notice cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Mental health problems and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health issues can increase the corresponding risk of cognitive decline.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for someone who has untreated hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can substantially reduce those risks. And those risks can be reduced even more by improving your general brain function or cognition. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to enhance cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to improve 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 increase your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Gardening requires moderate physical activity. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health concerns like depression and anxiety in check.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to assess the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
As an added bonus, you get healthy vegetables and fruits from your hobby. 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. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or perhaps you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that counts with regard to exercising the brain, not so much the particular medium. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing lots of work. Over the long haul, your cognitive function will be healthier.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will need to employ your imagination to do that. This involves a lot of brain power! There are a few activities that stimulate your imagination in just this way, so it provides a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You will need to keep your mind engaged in the task you’re doing. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by participating in this kind of real time thinking.
Your level of talent doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re painting a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most important 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. But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health benefits.
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 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? Things like that. This is still an excellent cognitive exercise even if it’s occurring in the background of your brain. Plus, physical activity of any kind can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow cognitive decline.
Just a little time for you and your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are made to help you focus on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
Put simply, meditation can help give you even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is good for you! And it’s also quite enjoyable. There’s that old saying: a book can take you anywhere. In a book, you can travel everywhere, including outer space, ancient Egypt, or the depths of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. In this way, reading activates a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think quite a bit and utilize your imagination when you read.
Hence, one of the best ways to improve the mind is reading. You have to utilize your memory to keep track of the story, your imagination to visualize what’s happening, and you get a nice dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Spend some time each day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you enjoy. And, for the record, audiobooks are essentially as effective as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Even if you do every little thing right, untreated hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of mental decline. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
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 dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing exam.