As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult to detect the changes. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to hurt a little bit more. Some sagging of the skin begins to take place in certain places. Maybe you begin to notice some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These indicators are difficult to miss.
But the impact aging has on the mind isn’t always so evident. You might observe that your memory isn’t as strong as it once was and that you have to start writing important dates on your calendar. Perhaps you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more frequently. But unfortunately, you might not even recognize this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
As you get older, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
What is the connection between hearing and mental cognition
There are numerous reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they age. This can contribute to a higher risk of mental decline. So, why does hearing loss increase the chances of cognitive decline? Research reveals several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, the part of your brain that processes sound starts to atrophy. The brain may reallocate some resources, but overall, this isn’t very good for mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is frequently the result of neglected hearing loss. Because of this lack of social interaction, you can start to notice cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Neglected hearing loss can also contribute to depression and other mental health concerns. And the corresponding chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But untreated hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, up to and including dementia. Managing your hearing loss can considerably reduce those risks. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Strengthening cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to improve your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is like any other body part: 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.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be incredibly satisfying all on its own (it’s also a tasty hobby). A unique combination of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also enhance your cognitive function. Here are a number of reasons why:
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- You get a bit of modest physical activity. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues including depression and anxiety in check.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, not all gardens have 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 enjoyed by anybody regardless of artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or perhaps you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. 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.
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- It requires the use of fine motor skills. Even if it feels like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. That type of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long run.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will need to employ your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is needed to achieve that. There are a few activities that activate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You will need to keep your mind engaged in the task you’re doing. You can help your mental process stay clear and flexible by engaging in this type of real time thinking.
Your talent level doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re creating a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by stimulating your imagination.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can keep you healthy. 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.
Any time 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 a good thing.
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 kind of thing. Even if this type of thinking is happening in the background of your brain, it’s still great mental exercise. Also, physical exercise of any kind can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow cognitive decline.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help calm down your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). Sometimes known as mindfulness meditation, these practices are designed to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
Essentially, meditation can help provide you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s great for you to read! And even better than that, it’s really enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel everywhere, like outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. Consider all the brain power that is involved in creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. A big portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. You’re forced to think a lot and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the best ways to improve the mind is reading. 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 fulfilling dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you take a little time each day reading and strengthening your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are essentially as good as reading with your eyes.
Better your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Even if you do everything right, 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 treated (typically with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.