As your body gets older, it’s not hard to notice the changes. Your skin begins to get some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints start to stiffen. Your skin gets a bit saggy in places. Maybe you start to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. It’s pretty difficult not to notice these changes.
But it’s harder to see how aging impacts your mind. You may observe that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you need to begin noting essential dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But regrettably, you might not even detect this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it clear 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
The majority of people will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a wide variety of reasons). The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. The brain might assign some resources, but overall, this is not great for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is frequently the result of untreated hearing loss. Because of this lack of social connection, you can start to detect cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also lead to depression and other mental health issues. And having these mental health issues can increase the corresponding danger of cognitive decline.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual with untreated hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can considerably 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.
How to improve cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to boost your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So improve your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be extremely fulfilling all by itself (it’s also a tasty hobby). Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a few reasons why:
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to assess the situation using planning and problem solving skills.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems including depression and anxiety at bay.
- You get a bit of moderate physical exercise. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
The reality that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, not all gardens need to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wants!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anybody no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or you can get started with pottery and make a cool clay pot! When it comes to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. And while that might 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 engage your imagination to do that. This involves a lot of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and versatile.
Whether you get 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.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (particularly when it’s so sweltering hot outside). But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has cognitive health advantages.
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 smash into anyone else in the pool!
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before it’s time to breathe? That kind of thing. Even if this kind of thinking is happening in the background of your mind, it’s still great mental exercise. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just a little time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these practices 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
Put simply, meditation can help give you even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is great for you! And even better than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can go everywhere, such as outer space, the ancient world, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. A big part of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a great deal.
As a result, reading is one of the best ways to sharpen your thinking. 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.
Take some time every day to strengthen your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you enjoy. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Better your cognition by getting your hearing loss managed
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will improve once you have your hearing loss treated (usually with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Call us today to make an appointment for a hearing test and reconnect to life!