It’s not difficult to notice how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to get some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to be a little more sore. Some sagging of the skin begins to happen in certain places. Perhaps you start to notice some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These indicators are hard to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might find that you’re needing to note significant events on the calendar because you’re having difficulty with your memory. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing important events. But regrettably, you might not even notice this gradual onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently worsen this decline.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you age. Even better, these exercises can be utterly enjoyable!
The connection between cognition and hearing
There are numerous reasons why people will slowly lose their hearing as they get older. The risk of mental decline will then increase. So, why does hearing loss increase the danger of mental decline? Research reveals several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing starts to atrophy. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this isn’t great for your mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily lead to a sense of social isolation. Because of this lack of social interaction, you can start to detect cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health issues can increase an associated danger of cognitive decline.
So is dementia the outcome of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But mental decline, including dementia, will be more probable for someone with untreated hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be decreased even more by boosting your general brain function or cognition. A little preventative management can go a long way.
How to improve cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to improve your cognitive function and give your brain the workout it needs? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other part of the body: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So increase your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and satisfying hobby. Your cognition can be enhanced with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This takes place for several reasons:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- As you’re working, you will have 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 bit of moderate physical activity. 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 good for your brain.
As an added bonus, you get healthy vegetables and fruits from your hobby. Of course, you can grow lots of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
You don’t have to be artistically inclined to take pleasure in arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or perhaps you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. It’s the process that is important when it comes to exercising the brain, not as much the specific medium. Because your critical thinking abilities, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are cultivated by doing arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Here are several reasons why doing arts and crafts will improve cognition:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. Over the long run, your cognitive function will be healthier.
- You need to manage sensory input in real time and you will need to engage your imagination to do that. A lot of brain power is needed to achieve that. There are a few activities that stimulate your imagination in just this way, so it provides a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You will need to keep your attention engaged in the activity you’re doing. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and flexible.
Whether you get a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your level of talent doesn’t really matter. What counts is that you’re utilizing your imagination and keeping your mind sharp.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a number of ways! Plus, a hot afternoon 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.
Any time you’re in the pool, you have to do a lot of thinking about spatial relations when you’re swimming. Obviously, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be a good thing.
Your mind also needs to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? Things like that. This is still an excellent cognitive exercise even if it’s going on in the back of your mind. 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.
Just some time for you and your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). These “mindfulness” meditation practices are designed to help you focus on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
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 it’s also quite enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. The floor of the ocean, the ancient 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 conjuring up characters, you’re using a lot of brain power. A large portion of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. Reading isn’t possible without engaging your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to focus your thoughts. Imagination is required to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a satisfying dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t actually make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you take a little time each day reading and strengthening your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Improve your cognition by having your hearing loss managed
Disregarded hearing loss can raise your risk of cognitive decline, even if you do everything correctly. 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 improve once you have your hearing loss addressed (normally with hearing aids).
Are you dealing with hearing loss? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.