It’s easy to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to get some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints start to stiffen. Your skin gets a little saggy in places. Maybe you begin to detect some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These indicators are hard to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so apparent. You might find that you’re having to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having difficulty with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But sadly, you might not even detect this gradual onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently exacerbate this decline.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you get older. Even better, these exercises can be utterly enjoyable!
The link between cognition and hearing
There are a number of reasons why people will gradually lose their hearing as they get older. The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research points to several hidden risks of hearing loss.
- 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 is not great for your cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social isolation. This isolation means you’re talking less, socializing less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health problems can boost the corresponding danger of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But neglected hearing loss can increase your risk of mental decline, up to and including dementia. Those risks, however, can be significantly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be decreased even more by enhancing your general brain function or cognition. A little preventative management can go a long way.
Improving cognitive function
So how do you go about giving your brain the workout it requires to strengthen mental function? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and rewarding hobby. A unique mix of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also enhance your cognitive function. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems like depression and anxiety at bay.
- You get a bit of modest physical exercise. Increased blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to assess the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
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 wishes!
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 you can take up pottery and make a cool clay pot! With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters much less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) tap into 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 lots of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. That kind of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long run.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will have to engage your imagination to do that. This requires a lot of brain power! There are a few activities that activate your imagination in just this way, so it provides a unique type of brain exercise.
- You will need to keep your mind engaged in the exercise you’re doing. You can help your cognitive process stay clear and flexible by engaging in this kind of real time thinking.
Your level of talent doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re painting a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by engaging your imagination.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, it’s always enjoyable to jump into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has mental health advantages.
Your brain has to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. Obviously, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? Things like that. Even if this type of thinking is occurring in the background of your mind, it’s still very good cognitive exercise. Plus, physical exercise of any kind can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow mental decline.
Just some time for you and your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. These “mindfulness” meditation practices are designed to help you focus on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is good for you! And it’s also quite enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. 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 visualizing characters. This is how reading engages a massive part of your brain. Reading isn’t possible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to focus your thinking. You have to use your memory to keep an eye on the story, your imagination to picture what’s happening, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you spend some time every day reading and strengthening your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Manage your hearing loss to lessen cognitive risks
Disregarded hearing loss can raise your danger of cognitive decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t have your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
When you do get 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.
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Call us today to schedule a hearing exam and reconnect to life!