It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints begin to stiffen. Some drooping of the skin begins to occur in certain places. Perhaps you begin to detect some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These signs are hard to miss.
But the affect getting older has on the mind isn’t always so apparent. You may find that you are needing to put important events on the calendar because you’re having trouble with your memory. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. The trouble is that this sort of cognitive decline takes place so slowly and gradually that you may never notice it. For those with hearing loss, the psychological effects can often worsen 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. And the good news is, these exercises can be downright fun!
The relationship between cognition and hearing
There are numerous reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they age. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research reveals a number of hidden risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but generally speaking, this isn’t very good for your mental health.
- A feeling of social isolation is often the result of untreated hearing loss. This isolation means you’re conversing less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Untreated hearing loss can also contribute to depression and other mental health problems. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual with neglected hearing loss. Managing your hearing loss can considerably limit those risks. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can decrease those risks even more. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
Increasing mental function
So, how can you be certain to improve your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the good news is that your brain is like any other body part: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be very fulfilling all on its own (it’s also a delicious hobby). Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Gardening involves moderate physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving bags of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to assess the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The fact that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
You don’t need to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or you can get started with pottery and make an awesome clay pot! 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).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. Even if it feels like it’s happening automatically, a lot of work is being done by your nervous system and brain. 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. A lot of brain power is needed to achieve that. There are a number of activities that stimulate your imagination in exactly this way, so it offers a unique type of brain exercise.
- You will need to keep your mind engaged in the task you’re doing. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Your talent level doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re painting a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by engaging your imagination.
Going for a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, it’s always enjoyable to jump into the pool (particularly when it’s so sweltering hot outside). But swimming isn’t only good for your physical health, it also has mental health benefits.
Your brain has to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re swimming in the pool. 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 to breathe 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 excellent mental exercise. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are made to help you focus on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
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 more than that, it’s fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. When you’re following along with a story, manifesting landscapes in your imagination, and mentally creating characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. This is how reading engages a huge part of your brain. You’re forced to think a great deal and use your imagination when you read.
Consequently, reading is one of the most ideal ways to sharpen your thinking. You have to use your memory to keep track of the story, your imagination to picture what’s going on, and you get a sweet dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Take some time every day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you prefer. And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as good as reading with your eyes.
Better your cognition by getting your hearing loss addressed
Even if you do every little thing 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.
When are able to have your hearing treated (usually thanks to a hearing aid or two), all of these enjoyable brain exercises will help increase your cognition. Improving your memory, your thoughts, and your social skills.
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Contact us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam and reconnect to life!