It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. You develop wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees start to be a little more sore. Some sagging of the skin begins to occur in certain places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to diminish a little. These signs are hard to miss.
But it’s more difficult to see how aging affects your mind. You might find that you are having to put significant events on the calendar because you’re having trouble with your memory. Perhaps you miss significant events or forget what you were doing more frequently. But sadly, you might not even recognize this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological impact.
As you get older, there are, luckily, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. And you might even have a little bit of fun!
The link between hearing and cognition
There are numerous reasons why people will gradually lose their hearing as they get older. This can result in a higher risk of cognitive decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of cognitive decline? There are several silent risk factors according to research.
- When you have untreated hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing begins to atrophy. The brain may assign some resources, but overall, this isn’t great for cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social isolation. Due to this lack of social interaction, you can begin to notice cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Untreated hearing loss can also contribute to depression and other mental health issues. And the corresponding risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more likely for an individual who has neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be decreased even more by boosting your general brain function or cognition. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
How to increase cognitive function
So, how can you be sure to develop your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the good news is that your brain is like any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So improve your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be extremely satisfying all on its own (it’s also a delicious 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 issues like depression and anxiety at bay.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to use planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- You get a little 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.
As an added bonus, you get healthy vegetables and fruits from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens need to be food-focused. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in 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 a lot less than the process. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are a few reasons why doing arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. Even if it seems 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 use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is required to accomplish that. You can activate your imagination by undertaking these unique brain exercises.
- You will have to keep your mind engaged in the exercise you’re doing. This kind of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and versatile.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or draft your own original work of art, your level of talent doesn’t really matter. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, it’s always enjoyable to jump into the pool (particularly when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). But swimming isn’t just 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 swimming in the pool. Obviously, colliding with someone 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? That sort of thing. Even if this kind of thinking is going on in the background of your brain, it’s still very good mental exercise. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you get involved in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending a little quiet solo time with your mind. As your thoughts calm down, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. These “mindfulness” meditation methods are designed to help you concentrate on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is great for you! And even more than that, it’s fun. There’s that old saying: a book can take you anywhere. In a book, you can go everywhere, like outer space, ancient Egypt, or the bottom of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, manifesting landscapes in your imagination, and mentally conjuring up characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. A large portion of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t possible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Hence, one of the best ways to sharpen the mind is reading. You have to use your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to visualize what’s going on, and you get a nice dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
Spend 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 essentially as effective as reading with your eyes.
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss managed
Neglected hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything right. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
When you do get your hearing treated (usually thanks to a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help increase your cognition. Improving your memory, your thinking, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing exam.