The most current science out there tells us that our bodies and minds are inextricably linked. More so, modern medicine now focuses on the entire person where health is evaluated. That is to say that none of our systems exists in a vacuum, and hearing health is no exception to that rule.
Just as hearing loss can take a tremendous toll upon our emotional and mental health, the basic building blocks of physical health such as exercise, diet, sleep and even hearing all feed upon one another in order to create a healthy brain. Scientists are now finding that these key elements of health are instrumental in retaining neuroplasticity, or the ability of our brains to make new neuropathways and thus new behaviors, skills and thoughts.
The anti-aging prescription
We’ve long known the importance that exercise, diet and sleep have on our physical systems. Having a balanced and regular practice of those three elements keep the adverse effects of aging at bay and can decrease our likelihood of developing dementia. But most astounding is the recent research that includes healthy hearing as part of that magic equation.
As we age, our brains begin to slow down. We naturally retain most of our mental capacity, but the agility of the brain begins to lessen. We may not feel as “sharp” as we once did. Beyond cognition, this also results in slower motor and sensory abilities. Keeping an eye on those four major components is one way to halt the decline.
It starts with a plan, an exercise plan
Exercise is a brain health fundamental. In one study of people aged 65 and older, the effects of exercise on aging included a 32% reduction in risk of dementia for those who exercised 3 or more times per week compared to those who exercised to a lesser extent than that.
On another level, physical exercise preserves the mind-body connection so essential to overall wellness. It also keeps blood pressure regulated and reduces the amount of stress on our nervous systems.
There’s a diet for everyone
Eating a healthy diet can mean so many things now. Some people are dairy-free, some vegetarian, many espouse the benefits of veganism. Some of your friends are low-carb, some eat no grains whatsoever and some are low protein high fat. For every option listed, there are ten more ways of prescribed eating that someone thinks is a miracle diet.
The fact is that all bodies are different and all lifestyles are different. What works for one might not work for another. Instead, speak with your doctor, your friends and do some light internet research. You’ll find the eating plan you connect with — the best one is the one you’ll stick to, so try something appealing to you and pay attention to how it makes you feel. What is important is to make sure your diet contains whole foods, not processed, and a good smattering of vegetables. The more colorful, the better!
Sleep on it, and regularly
Sleep is essential to preserving brain function, which is why it is so unfortunate that sleep disorders tend to affect older adults disproportionately. Around 50% of older adults suffer from insomnia, 50% have disordered breath. All of these issues result in too little and non-restful sleep.
See your physician about your sleep disorder. You might also try light meditation before bed, proven to be successful in extending sleep time and helping practitioners find deeper and more restful sleep in general.
Intervene in hearing loss
Hearing health plays an important, if unexpected role in maintaining brain health. Affecting a huge percentage of the over 65 population, hearing loss is often associated with brain atrophy and neurodegeneration. Those with a mild hearing impairment are at twice the risk for dementia than those without. People who have moderate to severe hearing loss have up to 3 and 5 times the risk of dementia, respectively.
Those are fairly alarming statistics, sure. But there is a solution. Treating hearing loss may lead to cortical restructuring and cognitive improvement. So, schedule an appointment with us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center today to get your hearing tested. They can decode your unique hearing loss pattern and fit you with the best hearing aid to fit your lifestyle.