It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. You get wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to get stiff. Your skin gets a bit saggy in places. Maybe you start to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These signs are tough to miss.
But it’s more difficult to see how aging affects your mind. You may find that you’re needing to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But unfortunately, you may not even notice this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you age. And the good news is, these exercises can be utterly enjoyable!
What is the connection between hearing and mental cognition
There are a number of reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of cognitive decline? Research points to several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. The brain might assign some resources, but in general, this is not great for mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the consequence of untreated hearing loss. This isolation means you’re conversing less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But untreated hearing loss can raise your risk of mental decline, up to and including dementia. Treating your hearing loss can substantially lessen those risks. And those risks can be reduced even more by increasing your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
How to increase cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to develop your cognitive 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 here are a few enjoyable ways to develop your brain and increase your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. This occurs for several reasons:
- Gardening requires moderate physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- 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.
The reality that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, not all gardens have to be food-focused. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb wishes!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anyone no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or maybe you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that is important when it comes to exercising the brain, not so much the specific medium. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Here are several reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. 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. A lot of brain power is required to achieve that. You can stimulate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You will have to keep your mind engaged in the activity you’re doing. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Your talent level doesn’t really matter, whether you’re creating a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most important thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, it’s always fun to jump into the pool (particularly when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). And while it’s clearly 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. Obviously, slamming into somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. How long can you stay underwater before it’s time to breathe? Things like that. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s occurring in the back of your brain. Also, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). These “mindfulness” meditation practices are designed to help you concentrate on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
It’s good for you to read! And even better than that, it’s fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. In a book, you can go everywhere, including outer space, the ancient world, or the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that is involved in generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or visualizing characters. This is how reading activates a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think a lot and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is by reading. 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 fulfilling dose of serotonin.
Spend some time every day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you like. Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Better your cognition by having your hearing loss managed
Even if you do everything right, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of cognitive decline. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be struggling uphill, 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 dealt with (usually with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing exam.