As your body ages, it isn’t difficult to detect the changes. Your skin starts to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to be a little more sore. Some drooping of the skin begins to happen in certain places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to diminish a little. These indicators are tough to miss.
But the impact aging has on the mind is not always so evident. You might observe that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be and that you have to begin noting essential dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss important events or lose your train of thought more often. But unfortunately, you may not even recognize this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And the good news is, these exercises can be utterly enjoyable!
What’s the link between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why individuals will gradually lose their hearing as they age. This can lead to a higher risk of cognitive decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the chances of mental decline? Research points to a number of hidden risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, the portion of your brain that processes sound begins to atrophy. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but generally speaking, this isn’t great for your cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily produce 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 consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also result in depression and other mental health problems. And having these mental health issues can increase the corresponding risk of mental decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody who has untreated hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can substantially limit those risks. And those risks can be lowered even more by boosting your general brain function or cognition. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to increase cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to improve your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the good news is that your brain is the same as any other part of the body: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So here are some fun ways to develop your brain and boost your sharpness.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and satisfying hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. This occurs for a number of reasons:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- You get a bit of modest physical activity. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving bags of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s healthy for your brain.
The reality that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, you can grow lots of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
You don’t need to be artistically inclined to enjoy arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or maybe you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. With regard 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 doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a number of reasons why getting involved in arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You need to use numerous fine motor skills. And while that might 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 need to process sensory input in real time and you will have to engage your imagination to do that. This involves a lot of brain power! There are a number of activities that activate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing as you do it. This kind 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 doing a paint-by-numbers. What counts is that you’re making use of your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a number of ways! 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 mental health.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you need to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? That kind of thing. This is still an effective cognitive exercise even if it’s happening in the back of your mind. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you get involved in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending some peaceful solo time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these practices are made to help you focus on what you’re 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 practicing meditation.
Reading is good for you! And it’s also quite enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take you anywhere. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel anywhere in a book. Consider all the brain power that is involved in generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or conjuring characters. A huge part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. Reading isn’t possible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
As a result, reading is one of the best ways to sharpen your thoughts. Imagination is needed to envision what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you take a little time each day reading and building your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Treat your hearing loss to reduce cognitive risks
Neglected hearing loss can increase your risk of mental decline, even if you do everything right. 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.
When are able to have your hearing treated (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help increase your cognition. Improving your memory, your thoughts, and your social skills.
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Call us today to schedule a hearing exam and reconnect to life!