As your body ages, it isn’t difficult to detect the changes. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to be a little more sore. Your skin becomes a little saggy in places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to fade a bit. These indicators are difficult to miss.
But it’s harder to see how aging impacts your mind. You may find that you’re having to note significant events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Perhaps you miss important events or lose your train of thought more often. The trouble is that this type of cognitive decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you might never realize it. For those who have hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently exacerbate this decline.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can work out your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And you may even have some fun!
The relationship between hearing and cognition
There are a number of reasons why people will gradually lose their hearing as they age. This can contribute to a higher risk of cognitive decline. So, why does hearing loss increase the danger of cognitive decline? There are a number of hidden risk factors as revealed by research.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when somebody has untreated hearing loss. The brain might assign some resources, but in general, this isn’t great for mental health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social isolation. As a result of this lack of social connection, you can start to detect cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Mental health problems and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health concerns can increase an associated danger of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual who has neglected hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can significantly lessen those risks. And those risks can be decreased even more by improving your general brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to improve cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to increase your mental 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 requires a little exercise. So here are some enjoyable ways to develop your brain and boost your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and rewarding hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This occurs for several reasons:
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health problems like depression and anxiety in check.
- You get a bit of moderate physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets of soil around, the activity you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
- 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.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an added bonus. Of course, you can grow lots of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anybody no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or maybe you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that is important when it comes to exercising the brain, not so much the specific medium. 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:
- You have to make use of numerous 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. Over the long haul, your mental function will be healthier.
- You have to utilize your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This involves a ton of brain power! There are a number of activities that stimulate your imagination in just this way, so it offers a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by engaging in this kind of real time thinking.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original fine art piece, your talent level isn’t really relevant. What counts is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your brain 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. But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has mental health benefits.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, slamming into someone else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
You also have to think about your rhythms. How long can you be underwater before you need to breathe? Things like that. Even if this type of thinking is happening in the background of your brain, it’s still excellent 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 cognitive decline.
Spending a little silent solo time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these methods 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
Put simply, meditation can help provide you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s good for you to read! And even better than that, it’s fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. In a book, you can travel everywhere, such as outer space, the ancient world, or the depths of the ocean. Consider all the brain power that goes into generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or visualizing characters. In this way, reading engages a massive part of your brain. Reading isn’t possible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
Hence, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is by reading. You have to utilize your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to visualize what’s going on, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you finish your book!
What you read doesn’t actually matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you take a little time every day reading and strengthening your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Better your cognition by having your hearing loss addressed
Even if you do every little thing right, untreated hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of cognitive decline. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, you’ll still be struggling uphill, unless you manage your hearing loss.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will improve once you have your hearing loss addressed (normally with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Call us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam and reconnect to life!