It’s easy to notice how your body ages over time. You get wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to be a little more sore. Your skin gets a bit droopy in places. Perhaps you start to notice some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These signs are difficult to miss.
But it’s harder to see how growing older affects your mind. You may notice that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you need to begin writing essential dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more often. But regrettably, you might not even recognize this slow onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
As you age, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. And you may even have a little bit of fun!
What is the connection between hearing and mental cognition
Most individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). This can contribute to a higher risk of mental decline. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are a number of silent risk factors according to research.
- 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 generally speaking, this isn’t very good for your cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social separation. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Untreated hearing loss can also result in depression and other mental health issues. And an associated risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for someone who has neglected hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can substantially limit those risks. And those risks can be decreased even more by increasing your overall brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Strengthening mental function
So, how can you be certain to enhance your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So here are a few fun ways to develop your brain and improve your sharpness.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be incredibly rewarding all on its own (it’s also a delicious hobby). Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a few reasons why:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You need to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and examine the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Gardening involves modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving bags of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables 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 desires!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anyone regardless of artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or you can take up pottery and make an awesome clay pot! It’s the process that matters with regard to exercising the brain, not as much the specific medium. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a few reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing a lot of work. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is required to accomplish that. There are a number of activities that stimulate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique type of brain exercise.
- You have to think about what you’re doing while you do it. You can help your cognitive process stay clear and flexible by participating in this kind of real time thinking.
Your level of talent doesn’t really matter, whether you’re painting a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. What matters is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. Plus, a hot day in the pool is always a great time. And while it’s clearly good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to smash into anybody else in the pool!
You also have to think about your rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? That sort of thing. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s happening in the back of your mind. Also, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Just a little time for you and your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these methods 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
Essentially, meditation can help give you even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is great for you! And even more than that, it’s really enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. The bottom of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. 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. This is how reading engages a massive part of your brain. You’re forced to think quite a bit and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal 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 finish the book, you get a fulfilling dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you devote some time each day reading and building your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Manage your hearing loss to lessen cognitive risks
Even if you do every single thing correctly, untreated hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of mental decline. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (normally with hearing aids).
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.