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 start to get stiff. Some drooping of the skin starts to happen in certain places. Maybe you begin to notice some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These indicators are tough to miss.
But it’s more difficult to see how aging impacts your mind. You might notice that your memory isn’t as good as it once was and that you need to begin writing essential dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss significant events or lose your train of thought more frequently. The trouble is that this sort of cognitive decline comes about so slowly and gradually that you may 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 exercise your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you get older. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
What is the link between hearing and mental cognition
Most individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a number of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of cognitive decline. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are a number of silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- 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 very good for your mental health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the consequence of untreated hearing loss. This isolation means you’re speaking less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Untreated hearing loss can also result in depression and other mental health issues. And the corresponding chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for someone who has untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And, improving your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can lessen those risks even more. A little preventative management can go a long way.
How to enhance cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to enhance 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 requires a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be incredibly fulfilling all by itself (it’s also a delicious hobby). Your cognition can be improved with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. Here are some reasons why:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to analyze the situation using planning and problem solving skills.
- You get a little moderate physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the ground or moving containers 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 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 wants!
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 get started with pottery and make an awesome clay pot! 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.
Here are a few reasons why doing arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing lots of work. Over the long run, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will have to engage your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is required to achieve that. You can activate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and versatile.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original work of art, your talent level doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot 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 some ways that swimming can also be good for your mental health.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anyone else in the pool!
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. This is still an effective mental exercise even if it’s going on in the back of your mind. Plus, physical activity of any kind can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Spending a little quiet alone time with your mind. Meditation can help calm down 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. In this way, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is good for you! And even better than that, it’s fun. 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. When you’re following along with a story, creating landscapes in your imagination, and mentally conjuring up characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. A large part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. You’re forced to think a lot and use your imagination when you read.
As a result, reading is one of the most ideal ways to focus your thinking. You have to use your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to visualize what’s happening, and you get a pleasant dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Take some time each day to strengthen 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 effective as reading with your eyes.
Better your cognition by having your hearing loss managed
Even if you do every single thing correctly, neglected hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of cognitive decline. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be an uphill battle.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (typically with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing exam.