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 be a little more sore. Your skin gets a little saggy in places. Maybe you begin to notice some fading of your hearing and eyesight. These signs are difficult to miss.
But it’s harder to see how aging impacts your mind. You may find that you’re needing to put important events on the calendar because you’re having issues with your memory. Perhaps you find yourself spacing out more and missing significant events. But regrettably, you may not even recognize this gradual onset. And that hearing decline can be worsened by the psychological impact.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can exercise your brain to keep it clear and healthy as you age. Even better, these exercises can be absolutely fun!
What is the connection between hearing and mental cognition
Most people will slowly lose their hearing as they get older (for a wide variety of reasons). This can result in a higher risk of mental decline. So, why does hearing loss increase the danger of mental decline? Research points to several hidden risks of hearing loss.
- When you have neglected hearing loss, the part of your brain responsible for sound processing begins to atrophy. The brain might reallocate some resources, but in general, this isn’t very good for mental health.
- Untreated hearing loss can easily result in a sense of social isolation. This isolation means you’re conversing less, socializing 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 problems. And having these mental health concerns can boost the corresponding danger of mental decline.
So, can hearing loss turn into dementia? Well, not directly. But untreated hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline, up to and including dementia. Treating your hearing loss can considerably lessen those risks. And those risks can be reduced even more by increasing your general brain function or cognition. Think of it as a little bit of preventative medicine.
How to increase cognitive function
So, how can you be certain to increase your mental function and give your brain the workout it needs? 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 increase your brain’s sharpness by doing some of these fun activities.
Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be extremely fulfilling all on its own (it’s also a tasty hobby). A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also enhance your cognitive function. Here are a few reasons why:
- Gardening involves modest 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.
- As you’re working, you will need to think about what you’re doing. You have to assess the situation making use of planning and problem solving skills.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues including 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 appreciated by anybody no matter the artistic ability. Something as simple as a popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or maybe you can make a really cool clay mug on a pottery wheel. With regard to exercising your brain, the medium matters a lot less than the process. Because your critical thinking skills, imagination, and sense of aesthetics are developed by partaking in arts and crafts (sculpting, painting, building).
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognition because:
- You have to use numerous fine motor skills. Even if it feels like it’s happening automatically, lots of work is being done by your nervous system and brain. That type of exercise can keep your mental functions healthier over the long haul.
- You have to utilize your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This involves a lot of brain power! There are a number of activities that activate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique kind of brain exercise.
- You have to think about what you’re doing as you do it. This type of real time thinking can help keep your mental processes limber and versatile.
Your level of talent doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re creating a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. What counts is that you’re using your imagination and keeping your brain sharp.
Taking a swim can help keep you healthy in a number of ways! 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 a few ways that swimming can also be good for your cognitive health.
Your brain needs to be engaged in things like spatial awareness when you’re in the pool swimming. 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 happening in the back of your brain. And mental decline will advance more slowly when you take part in physical exercise because it helps get more blood to the brain.
Just some time for you and your mind. As your thoughts become calm, your sympathetic nervous system also relaxes. Sometimes labeled mindfulness meditation, these methods are designed to help you focus on what you’re thinking. As a result, meditation can:
- Improve your memory
- Help you learn better
- Improve your attention span
Essentially, meditation can help give you even more awareness of your mental and cognitive faculties.
Reading is good for you! And even better than that, it’s really enjoyable. There’s that old adage: a book can take anywhere. In a book, you can travel everywhere, like outer space, the ancient world, or the bottom of the ocean. When you’re following along with a story, creating landscapes in your imagination, and mentally creating characters, you’re using lots of brain power. This is how reading activates a massive part of your brain. Reading isn’t feasible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
Consequently, one of the very best ways to improve the mind is reading. Imagination is required to picture what’s going on, your memory to keep up with the plot, and when you complete the book, you get a rewarding dose of serotonin.
What you read doesn’t really make a difference, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, so long as you take a little time each day reading and building your brainpower! Audiobooks, for the record, work just as well!
Treat your hearing loss to reduce cognitive risks
Disregarded hearing loss can increase your danger of mental decline, even if you do everything correctly. But if you don’t get your hearing loss treated, even if you do all of these things, it will still be a difficult fight.
When are able to have your hearing managed (usually because of a hearing aid or two), all of these fun brain exercises will help boost your cognition. Improving your memory, your thinking, and your social skills.
Are you suffering from hearing loss? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing exam.