It’s not difficult to observe how your body ages over time. Your skin starts to get some wrinkles. Your hair turns gray (or falls out). Your knees start to be a little more sore. Some sagging of the skin starts to occur in certain places. Maybe your eyesight and your hearing both begin to diminish a bit. It’s pretty difficult not to notice these changes.
But the affect getting older has on the mind isn’t always so obvious. You might acknowledge that your memory isn’t as good as it once was and that you have to start noting significant dates on your calendar. Maybe you miss important events or forget what you were doing more often. The trouble is that this type of mental decline takes place so slowly and gradually that you might never detect it. 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 clear and healthy as you age. And you may even have a little bit of fun!
The connection between cognition and hearing
There are a number of reasons why individuals will slowly lose their hearing as they age. The risk of cognitive decline will then increase. So what is the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? There are several silent risk factors as revealed by research.
- There can be atrophy of the part of the brain that processes sound when someone has untreated hearing loss. The brain might reallocate some resources, but in general, this isn’t great for cognitive health.
- A feeling of social separation is often the result of neglected hearing loss. This isolation means you’re talking less, socializing less, and spending more time on your own, and your cognition can suffer as a result.
- Mental health issues and depression can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. And having these mental health issues can increase the corresponding risk of cognitive decline.
So, can hearing loss develop into dementia? Well, not directly. But cognitive decline, including dementia, will be more probable for somebody who has untreated hearing loss. Treating your hearing loss can significantly reduce those risks. And those risks can be reduced even more by improving your overall brain function or cognition. A little preventative management can go a long way.
How to increase cognitive function
So how do you approach giving your brain the workout it needs to strengthen mental function? 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 boost your brain’s sharpness by engaging in some of these fun activities.
Cultivating your own vegetables and fruit is a delicious and rewarding hobby. A unique mix of deep thought and hard work, gardening can also increase your cognitive function. This happens for a number of reasons:
- Gardening requires moderate physical exercise. Whether it’s digging around in the dirt or moving buckets of soil around, the exercise you get when gardening is enough to get your blood pumping, and that’s good for your brain.
- You need to think about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. You have to analyze the situation utilizing planning and problem solving skills.
- Relief of anxiety and a little bit of serotonin. This can help keep mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in check.
As an added bonus, you get healthy fruits and vegetables from your hobby. Of course, not all gardens have to be food-focused. You can grow flowers, wild grasses, cacti, or anything your green thumb desires!
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can be appreciated by anybody no matter the artistic ability. Something like a simple popsicle stick sculpture can be fun. Or perhaps you can make a really cool 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. That’s because arts and crafts (painting, sculpting, building) cultivate your imagination, your critical thinking skills, and your sense of aesthetics.
Arts and crafts can be good for your cognitive ability because:
- It requires the 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 mental function will be healthier.
- You have to use your imagination and process sensory inputs in real time. This involves a ton of brain power! There are a number of activities that stimulate your imagination in exactly this way, so it provides a unique type 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 cognitive processes limber and versatile.
Your level of talent doesn’t really make a difference, whether you’re painting a work of art or working on a paint-by-numbers. The most important thing is keeping your brain sharp by stimulating your imagination.
There are a lot of ways that swimming can help you stay healthy. Plus, a hot afternoon in the pool is always a great time. But swimming isn’t just good for your physical health, it also has mental health advantages.
Whenever you’re in the pool, you need 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 has to be aware of rhythms. When will you need to come up for a breath of air when you’re under water? That kind of thing. Even if this kind of thinking is going on in the background of your mind, it’s still very good cognitive exercise. Also, physical activity of any sort can really help get blood to the brain going, and that can be good at helping to slow mental decline.
Spending a little quiet solo time with your mind. Meditation can help calm your thoughts (and calm your sympathetic nervous system at the same time). These “mindfulness” meditation techniques are designed to help you focus on your thinking. Meditation can help:
- Improve your attention span
- Help you learn better
- Improve your memory
You can become even more mindful of your mental faculties by getting involved in meditation.
Reading is good for you! And it’s also really fun. A book can take you anywhere according to that old saying. The floor of the ocean, the ancient past, outer space, you can travel anywhere in a book. 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 engages a huge part of your brain. Reading isn’t possible without employing your imagination and thinking a lot.
As a result, reading is one of the most ideal ways to sharpen your thinking. Imagination is needed to envision 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 really matter, fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, as long as you allocate time every day reading and building your brainpower! And, for the record, audiobooks are basically as good as reading with your eyes.
Manage your hearing loss to lessen cognitive risks
Even if you do every little thing right, neglected hearing loss can continue to increase your risks of mental decline. But if you don’t have 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).
Is hearing loss a problem for you? Reconnect your life by calling us today for a hearing test.
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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.