It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. You get wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints begin to stiffen. Your skin becomes a bit droopy in places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to fade a bit. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might find that you are needing to put important events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Maybe you miss significant events or forget what you were doing more frequently. But unfortunately, you may not even detect 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 remain sharp. And you may even have a little bit of fun!
What is the connection between hearing and mental cognition
Most individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a number of reasons). The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research reveals a number of invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the part of your brain that processes sound begins to atrophy. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this isn’t very good for your mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the result of neglected hearing loss. This isolation means you’re talking less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also result in depression and other mental health issues. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But neglected hearing loss can raise your risk of cognitive decline, up to and including dementia. Those risks, however, can be significantly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be lowered even more by improving your overall brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to increase cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to increase your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other body part: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be extremely satisfying all on its own (it’s also a tasty hobby). Your cognition can be improved with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a few reasons why:
- You get a bit of moderate physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving containers of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in 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. It’s the process that is important when it comes to exercising the brain, not as much the particular medium. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Here are a few reasons why doing arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires making use of 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 kind of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This requires a lot of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You will have to keep your attention engaged in the task you’re doing. This type of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and flexible.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your talent level doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s clearly good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your mental health.
Any time you’re in the pool, you need to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, slamming into someone else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? That kind of thing. This is still an effective cognitive exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your brain. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending some quiet solo time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes labeled mindfulness meditation, these techniques are made to help you focus on what you’re thinking. In this way, meditation can:
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
In other words, meditation can help present you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is good for you! And it’s also quite enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take you anywhere. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. Consider all the brain power that is involved in generating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. A huge part of your brain is involved when you’re reading. You’re forced to think a lot and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal ways to focus your thoughts. Imagination is needed to visualize what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you take a little time every day reading and building your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by getting your hearing loss managed
Even if you do every little thing right, neglected hearing loss can continue to increase 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 an uphill battle.
When you do get your hearing treated (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help boost your cognition. Improving your memory, your thinking, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Call us today to schedule a hearing exam and reconnect to life!