As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult to notice the changes. You get wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints begin to stiffen. Your skin becomes a bit droopy in places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a little. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the impact aging has on the mind is not always so apparent. You might observe that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you need to begin noting significant dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss important events or lose your train of thought more often. The difficulty is that this kind of mental decline happens so slowly and gradually that you might never realize it. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
As you get older, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
The connection between cognition and hearing
There are numerous reasons why people will gradually lose their hearing as they age. This can lead to a higher risk of mental decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the chances of mental decline? Research points to several hidden risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this isn’t very good for your cognitive health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re talking less, socializing less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Untreated hearing loss can also trigger depression and other mental health issues. And having these mental health concerns can boost the corresponding danger of mental decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody with untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be lowered even more by boosting your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative management can go a long way.
How to increase cognitive function
So how do you go about giving your brain the workout it needs to increase mental function? Well, the good news is that your brain is the same as any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be exceptionally satisfying all by itself (it’s also a tasty hobby). A unique combination of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. Here are a few reasons why:
- You get a bit of modest physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- You have to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to utilize planning skills, problem solving skills, and examine the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The reality that you get healthy fruits and vegetables 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
You don’t need 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 an awesome clay pot! With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a number of reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- You need to make use of many fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing lots of work. That kind of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will need to employ your imagination to do that. This requires a lot of brain power! You can activate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your level of talent isn’t really relevant. What counts is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot 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 mental health.
Any time you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anybody else in the pool!
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. Even if this type of thinking is going on in the background of your mind, it’s still great cognitive exercise. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you get involved in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these techniques are designed to help you focus on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
Essentially, meditation can help provide you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s good for you to read! And it’s also quite enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel anywhere, like outer space, the ancient world, 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 lots of brain power. A large part of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to sharpen your thoughts. You have to use your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to visualize what’s happening, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
Take some time every day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you enjoy. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by getting your hearing loss treated
Neglected hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t have your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be an uphill battle.
When are able to have your hearing treated (usually thanks to 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.
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.