It’s easy to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees start to be a little more sore. Your skin becomes a little droopy in places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both start to diminish a little. These indicators are difficult to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might find that you are having to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But sadly, you might not even detect this slow onset. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can often worsen this decline.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you age. Even better, these exercises can be utterly fun!
What’s the connection between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why people will slowly lose their hearing as they get older. This can contribute to a higher risk of mental decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of cognitive decline? Research points to a number of hidden risks of hearing loss.
- When you have untreated hearing loss, the portion of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. The brain might reallocate some resources, but overall, this isn’t great for mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the outcome of untreated hearing loss. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also contribute to depression and other mental health problems. And having these mental health concerns can increase an associated risk of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for someone who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Strengthening cognitive 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 like any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So here are a few enjoyable ways to exercise your brain and increase your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. This occurs for a number of reasons:
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems like depression and anxiety at bay.
- You have to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to analyze the situation using planning and problem solving skills.
- You get a little moderate physical activity. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, not all gardens need to be focused on food. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wishes!
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or maybe you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. 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 cultivated by partaking in 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 might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing a lot of work. Over the long run, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will have 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 while you do it. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and flexible.
Your level of talent doesn’t really matter, whether you’re creating a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by stimulating your imagination.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has mental health benefits.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re swimming in the pool. After all, you don’t want to collide with anybody 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? That sort of thing. This is still an effective mental exercise even if it’s going on in the back of your mind. Plus, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down cognitive decline.
Just a little time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these practices are made to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
Put simply, meditation can help present 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 go everywhere, like outer space, the ancient world, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or conjuring characters. This is how reading engages a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think quite a bit and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to improve the mind is reading. You have to utilize your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to picture what’s going on, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
What you read doesn’t actually matter, 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!
Better your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your risk of mental decline, even if you do everything correctly. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be struggling uphill, unless you manage your hearing loss.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss treated (normally with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Contact us today to make an appointment for a hearing test and reconnect to life!