It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin begins to develop some wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your joints begin to stiffen. Some sagging of the skin starts to take place in certain places. Maybe you start to observe some fading of your hearing and eyesight. It’s pretty difficult not to notice these changes.
But it’s harder to see how growing older affects your mind. You may find that you’re having to note important events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But regrettably, you might not even detect this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological effects.
As you age, there are, fortunately, some exercises you can do to help your brain remain clear. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
The link between hearing and cognition
There are numerous reasons why people will slowly lose their hearing as they age. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So, why does hearing loss increase the chances of mental decline? Research reveals a number of invisible risks of hearing loss.
- There can be atrophy of the portion of the brain that processes sound when someone has neglected hearing loss. The brain might reallocate some resources, but overall, this isn’t very good for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social isolation is frequently the outcome of neglected hearing loss. Due to this lack of social connection, you can start to notice cognitive lapses as you withdraw from the outside world.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And the corresponding risk of cognitive decline can be increased by these mental issues.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, indirectly. But untreated hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, up to and including dementia. Those risks, however, can be seriously lowered by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be reduced even more by improving your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative treatment can go a long way.
How to enhance cognitive function
So how do you accomplish giving your brain the workout it requires to improve mental function? Well, the great news is that your brain is the same as any other body part: you can always achieve improvement, it simply requires a little exercise. So here are some enjoyable ways to exercise your brain and boost your sharpness.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a tasty and gratifying hobby. Your cognition can be improved with this unique mix of hard work and deep thinking. This takes place for several reasons:
- You get a little modest physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be increased by moving buckets around and digging in the ground.
- You have to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to utilize planning skills, problem solving skills, and analyze the situation. This gives your brain a great deal of great practice.
- Anxiety relief and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety in check.
As an added bonus, you get healthy vegetables and fruits 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 enjoyed by anybody 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 a lot less than the process. That’s because arts and crafts (drawing, sculpting, building) tap into your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- It requires making use of fine motor skills. Even if it seems like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being carried out by your nervous system and brain. Over the long run, your mental function will be healthier.
- You need to process sensory input in real time and you will have to engage your imagination to do that. This involves a lot of brain power! You can activate your imagination by engaging in these unique brain exercises.
- You have to stay focused on what you’re doing while you do it. You can help your cognitive process remain clear and flexible by participating in this kind of real time thinking.
Your talent level doesn’t really matter, whether you’re painting a work of art or doing a paint-by-numbers. The most relevant thing is keeping your mind sharp by engaging your imagination.
There are a number of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, it’s always enjoyable to hop into the pool (particularly when it’s so unrelentingly hot outside). 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 swimming in the pool. After all, you don’t want to smash into anyone 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? Things like that. This is still an excellent cognitive exercise even if it’s going on in the background of your mind. Also, physical exercise of any kind can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow down mental decline.
Spending some quiet alone time with your mind. Meditation can help settle your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system too). Sometimes called mindfulness meditation, these practices are designed to help you concentrate on what you’re thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
- Improve your memory
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 really enjoyable. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. The floor of the ocean, the ancient past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. Consider all the brain power that is involved in generating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or conjuring characters. A large part of your brain is engaged when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a great deal.
Consequently, reading is one of the best ways to sharpen your thinking. Imagination is needed to visualize what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you devote some time each day reading and strengthening your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as good as reading with your eyes.
Treat your hearing loss to improve cognitive risks
Even if you do every little thing correctly, untreated hearing loss can keep increasing 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 treated (normally with hearing aids).
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Call us today to schedule a hearing test and reconnect to life!