It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. You get wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees begin to be a little more sore. Some sagging of the skin begins to occur in certain places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to diminish a bit. These signs are difficult to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind is not always so evident. You may acknowledge that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you need to begin writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But sadly, you may not even recognize this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you age. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
The relationship between hearing and cognition
The majority of people will gradually lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several silent risk factors according to research.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when somebody has neglected hearing loss. The brain might assign some resources, but overall, this is not great for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social isolation is often the consequence of untreated hearing loss. Due to this lack of social interaction, you can start to notice cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Untreated hearing loss can also bring about depression and other mental health issues. And having these mental health issues can increase an associated risk of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for someone who has untreated hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can significantly limit those risks. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. A little preventative management can go a long way.
Enhancing cognitive function
So how do you accomplish giving your brain the workout it requires to improve cognitive function? Well, as with any other part of your body, the amount and type of exercise you do go a long way. So here are some fun ways to exercise your brain and increase your sharpness.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be extremely rewarding all on its own (it’s also a delicious hobby). A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also improve your cognitive function. This takes place for a number of reasons:
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems including depression and anxiety in check.
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to assess the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening involves modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving containers of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
As an added bonus, you get healthy vegetables and fruits from your hobby. 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
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anybody regardless of artistic ability. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or you can get started with pottery and make an awesome clay pot! When it comes to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. 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:
- You need to make use of numerous fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing a lot of work. Over the long haul, your mental 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 accomplish that. You can activate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You will have to keep your mind engaged in the exercise you’re doing. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and versatile.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original work of art, your talent level doesn’t really matter. What counts is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
Going for 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 advantages.
Your brain needs 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!
Your mind also has to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? That sort of thing. Even if this kind of thinking is happening in the background of your mind, it’s still very good mental exercise. And cognitive decline will advance 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 become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also gets calm. These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are made to help you concentrate on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
You can become even more aware of your mental faculties by doing meditation.
It’s good for you to read! And it’s also quite enjoyable. There’s that old saying: a book can take anywhere. In a book, you can go everywhere, such as outer space, the ancient world, or the depths of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, manifesting landscapes in your imagination, and mentally creating characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. A huge portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
As a result, reading is one of the most ideal ways to sharpen your thoughts. Imagination is required to envision what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a satisfying dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you allocate time every day reading and strengthening your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as effective as reading with your eyes.
Manage your hearing loss to improve cognitive risks
Even if you do every little thing correctly, untreated hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of cognitive 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.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss treated (typically with hearing aids).
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.