As your body gets older, it isn’t difficult to detect the changes. Your skin begins to get some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your joints start to stiffen. Your skin gets a bit saggy in places. Maybe you begin to observe some fading of your eyesight and hearing. These indicators are hard to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so apparent. 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 sadly, you might not even detect this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be exacerbated by the psychological effects.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it sharp and healthy as you get older. And you may even have some fun!
The connection between cognition and hearing
The majority of people will gradually lose their hearing as they age (for a wide variety of reasons). This can lead to a higher risk of cognitive decline. So what is the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss? Research points to several invisible risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when someone has untreated hearing loss. Sometimes, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this isn’t very good for your cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is frequently the consequence 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 consequence.
- Untreated hearing loss can also trigger depression and other mental health concerns. And having these mental health problems can increase the corresponding risk of mental decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual who has neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be greatly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And, boosting your overall brain health (known medically as “cognition”) can decrease those risks even more. A little preventative management can go a long way.
Strengthening cognitive function
So how do you accomplish giving your brain the workout it requires to strengthen mental function? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other body part: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So here are some enjoyable ways to exercise your brain and improve your sharpness.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a tasty and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique combination of hard work and deep thinking. This happens for a number of reasons:
- As you’re working, you will have to think about what you’re doing. You have to analyze the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- 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.
The fact that you get healthy fruits and vegetables out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, you can grow lots of other things besides food (herbs, flowers cacti).
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of artistic ability. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or perhaps you can make a nice clay mug on a pottery wheel. 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).
Here are a few reasons why doing arts and crafts will strengthen cognition:
- You have to use numerous fine motor skills. And while that may feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are truly doing lots of work. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. A lot of brain power is needed to achieve that. There are a few activities that stimulate your imagination in exactly this way, so it offers a unique type of brain exercise.
- You will have to keep your mind engaged in the activity you’re doing. You can help your mental process stay clear and flexible by participating in this type of real time thinking.
Your level of talent doesn’t really matter, whether you’re creating a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by stimulating your imagination.
Taking a swim can help you stay healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, it’s always enjoyable to hop into the pool (especially when it’s so sweltering hot outside). But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has mental health benefits.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you have to think a lot about spatial relations when you’re swimming. After all, you don’t want to collide with anyone else in the pool!
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 happening in the background of your brain. Plus, physical exercise 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 some peaceful solo time with your mind. As your thoughts become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. These “mindfulness” meditation methods are made to help you focus on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
In other words, meditation can help give you even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is great for you! And it’s also really fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. In a book, you can travel anywhere, including outer space, the ancient world, or the depths of the ocean. Think of all the brain power that goes into creating these imaginary landscapes, following a story, or conjuring characters. A large part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. You’re forced to think a great deal and utilize your imagination when you read.
As a result, reading is one of the most ideal ways to sharpen your thinking. You have to use your memory to monitor the story, your imagination to picture what’s happening, and you get a nice dose of serotonin when you complete your book!
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you spend some time each day reading and strengthening your brainpower! 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. 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.
When are able to have 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 thoughts, and your social skills.
Is hearing loss an issue for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing exam.