As your body ages, it isn’t difficult to notice the changes. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. You begin to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to be a little more sore. Your skin gets a bit droopy in places. Perhaps your eyesight and your hearing both start to diminish a little. It’s pretty difficult not to see these changes.
But the impact getting older has on the mind is not always so obvious. You may find that you are needing to note significant events on the calendar because you’re having trouble with your memory. Perhaps you miss important events or lose your train of thought more often. The trouble is that this sort of cognitive decline takes place so slowly and gradually that you may never realize it. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological impact.
Fortunately, there are a few 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!
The relationship between hearing and cognition
Most people will slowly lose their hearing as they age (for a number of reasons). The risk of mental decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research reveals several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when somebody has neglected hearing loss. The brain might assign some resources, but overall, this is not very good for mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily produce a sense of social isolation. This isolation means you’re talking less, interacting less, and spending more time by yourself, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Untreated hearing loss can also trigger depression and other mental health issues. And an associated chance of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental challenges.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more likely for someone with untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly decreased by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be reduced even more by improving your general brain function or cognition. Look at it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to increase cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to develop 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 a few enjoyable ways to develop your brain and boost your sharpness.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. Here are a number of reasons why:
- Gardening involves moderate physical activity. 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.
- You need to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to apply planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a lot of great practice.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, you can grow a lot of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anybody no matter the artistic ability. You can make a simple sculpture out of popsicle sticks. Or you can take up pottery and make a cool clay pot! It’s the process that is important with regard to exercising the brain, not as much the particular medium. 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 cognition because:
- You need to make use of numerous 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. Over the long haul, your cognitive function will be healthier.
- 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 accomplish that. You can activate your imagination by participating in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing while you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your cognitive processes limber and flexible.
Your talent level doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re creating a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most important thing is keeping your mind sharp by stimulating your imagination.
Going for a swim can help keep you healthy in a number of ways! Plus, it’s always fun to hop into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). And while it’s clearly good for your physical health, there are a few ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Your brain has to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. After all, you don’t want to smash into anybody else in the pool!
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? That kind of thing. This is still an excellent mental exercise even if it’s happening in the background of your mind. Plus, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain pumping, and that can be good at helping to slow down cognitive decline.
Spending some peaceful solo time with your mind. As your thoughts become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. Sometimes labeled mindfulness meditation, these techniques are made to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
In other words, meditation can help provide you with even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
It’s good for you to read! And it’s also quite enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can go anywhere, including outer space, ancient Egypt, or the depths of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, creating landscapes in your imagination, and mentally conjuring up characters, you’re using lots of brain power. A big portion of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. You’re forced to think quite a bit and utilize your imagination when you read.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to sharpen the mind is reading. You have to utilize 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!
Spend some time every day to develop your brain power by doing some reading, regardless of whether it’s fiction, science fiction, non-fiction, or whatever you enjoy. And, for the record, audiobooks are essentially as effective as reading with your eyes.
Treat your hearing loss to lessen cognitive risks
Disregarded hearing loss can raise your danger of mental decline, even if you do everything right. Which means, even if you swim and read and garden, you’ll still be fighting an uphill battle, unless you get your hearing loss treated.
Your social skills, your thinking, and your memory and cognition will get better once you have your hearing loss addressed (usually with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Call us today to schedule a hearing exam and reconnect to life!