It’s easy to observe how your body ages over time. You develop wrinkles. You start to lose your hair or it turns grey. Your knees start to hurt a little bit more. Some drooping of the skin begins to happen in certain places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to fade a little. These indicators are tough to miss.
But the affect aging has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You may find that you’re having to put important events on the calendar because you’re having difficulty with your memory. Maybe you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But unfortunately, you may not even notice this gradual onset. For those with hearing loss, the psychological consequence can frequently worsen this decline.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can work out your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you get older. Even better, these exercises can be downright fun!
What is the connection between hearing and mental cognition
The majority of people will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a wide variety of reasons). This can contribute to a higher risk of cognitive decline. So, why does loss of hearing increase the danger of mental decline? There are a number of silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when somebody has neglected hearing loss. Occasionally, it’s put to other uses, but in general, this is not great for your cognitive health.
- Neglected hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social isolation. Because of this lack of social connection, you can start to notice cognitive lapses as you disengage from the outside world.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the result of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health issues can boost an associated risk of mental decline.
So is dementia the result of hearing loss? Well, indirectly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for an individual with neglected hearing loss. Those risks, however, can be significantly reduced by getting hearing loss treated. And those risks can be reduced even more by boosting your overall brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
Improving cognitive function
So how do you go about giving your brain the workout it requires to improve mental function? Well, the good news is that your brain is like any other body part: you can always accomplish improvement, it simply calls for a little exercise. So boost your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruits is a delicious and rewarding hobby. A unique combination of deep thinking and hard work, gardening can also enhance your cognitive function. Here are a few reasons why:
- Gardening releases serotonin which can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Gardening involves moderate physical exercise. Improved blood flow is good for your brain and blood flow will be improved by moving buckets around and digging in the soil.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it. You have to assess the situation using planning and problem solving skills.
The reality that you get healthy vegetables and fruits out of your garden is an additional bonus. Of course, not all gardens have to be focused on food. 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 enjoy arts and crafts. You can make a simple sculpture using popsicle sticks. Or you can get started with pottery and make an awesome clay pot! It’s the process that is important when it comes to exercising the brain, not so much the specific medium. 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 the use of fine motor skills. And while that might feel automatic, your brain and nervous system are really doing lots of work. That kind of exercise can keep your cognitive functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This requires a great deal of brain power! You can stimulate your imagination by undertaking 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 type of real time thinking.
Whether you pick up a paint-by-numbers kit or create your own original work of art, your level of talent isn’t really relevant. The most relevant thing is keeping your brain sharp by engaging your imagination.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a lot of ways! Plus, it’s always enjoyable to jump into the pool (particularly 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 mental health.
Your brain has to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. Obviously, colliding with somebody else in the pool wouldn’t be safe.
You also have to pay attention to your rhythms. When will you need to come up to breathe when you’re under water? Things like that. Even if this kind of thinking is going on in the background of your brain, it’s still excellent mental exercise. And cognitive decline will progress more slowly when you take part in physical activity because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Spending a little silent solo time with your mind. As your thoughts become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also calms down. These “mindfulness” meditation methods are designed to help you focus on your thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your memory
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
You can become even more aware of your mental faculties by practicing meditation.
It’s good for you to read! And even more than that, it’s fun. There’s that old adage: a book can take you anywhere. The floor of the ocean, the distant past, outer space, you can travel everywhere in a book. Consider all the brain power that goes into creating these imaginary landscapes, keeping up with a story, or conjuring characters. A large part of your brain is involved when you’re reading. Reading isn’t feasible without engaging your imagination and thinking a lot.
Hence, one of the best ways to improve the mind is reading. Imagination is needed to envision what’s going on, your memory to follow along with the plot, and when you finish the book, you get a satisfying dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t actually matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you devote some time every day reading and building your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as good as reading with your eyes.
Treat your hearing loss to reduce cognitive risks
Even if you do every single thing right, neglected hearing loss can keep increasing your risks of cognitive decline. Which means, even if you garden, swim, and read, 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 (typically with hearing aids).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by contacting us today for a hearing test.