As we age, our minds tend to become less active, causing various changes in the brain. These changes often result in the decline of cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and processing speed. We used to think that when our brain cells were damaged, they were gone forever. That’s no longer the case.
One of the best ways to keep our minds sharp and active as we age is through learning and engagement. Keeping the mind stimulated by learning can help counteract these changes and even improve cognitive abilities.
Exercising the brain: the key to maintaining cognitive health for seniors with hearing loss
Exercising the brain, much like the body, keeps it healthy. Learning new skills is one way to exercise the brain and help seniors improve their memory recall, boost their problem-solving skills, and lower their chances of developing dementia or other cognitive ailments.
Learning new skills and knowledge can stimulate the brain, creating new neural pathways and strengthening existing ones. This process is called neuroplasticity, meaning the brain can change and adapt to new information and actually rewire itself to find new pathways for cognitive function.
Learning about a far off culture and their language, for example, can help improve cognitive flexibility and working memory. Learning to create a new craft can improve fine motor skills and coordination. Even something as common as reading a book can improve attention and processing speed.
Individuals with hearing loss (potentially over 80% of your resident population) however, require intense effort to hear and process information, let alone learn something new. This places a high cognitive load on the brain, causing physical changes like shrinkage in the area responsible for short-term memory. The brain also picks up subtle cues about balance and the environment through the ears. Hearing loss mutes those signals, decreasing the brain’s ability to function in normal, healthy ways.
The mental health benefits of learning for seniors
In addition to improving cognitive abilities, learning can also have positive effects on mental health and well-being. Engaging in activities that challenge the mind and provide a sense of achievement can boost self-esteem and confidence, reduce stress and anxiety, and even help prevent depression in seniors.
When seniors learn new skills or information, they often feel a sense of accomplishment, which can be a valuable distraction from any physical or emotional challenges they may be facing. By keeping the mind active and engaged, learning can help seniors feel more in control of their lives and more able to cope with challenges they are facing.
Learning is also a great way for seniors to stay socially connected with their communities. This social interaction can be especially important for seniors with hearing loss who may feel isolated due to communication barriers. By engaging in learning opportunities, seniors can maintain social connections and develop a sense of belonging and purpose.
Reviving the love of learning and engagement with eversound
The Eversound headphone system is an ideal solution for residents in senior living communities who want to rediscover their love of learning. Designed to improve the auditory experience of seniors and those with hearing loss, Eversound provides clearer sound by amplifying it and reducing background noise, which is essential for comprehension.
This allows seniors to better engage in learning activities and feel more confident in the process. The system is wireless, portable, and has individual volume controls, making it easy to use in various settings, including group classes or individual sessions with a tutor or instructor. This versatility allows seniors to access more learning opportunities and continue learning at their own pace.
With the Eversound wireless headphone system, residents can be more present and engaged, stimulating areas of the brain that are vulnerable to atrophy when hearing loss is present.
-Diana Sowers, AuD, Clinical Audiologist
In addition, Eversound’s members portal offers Life Enrichment/Activity Directors access to a continually growing library of ready-to-go educational and entertainment content. These programs are responsible for up to a 30% decrease in cognitive decline in residents 70 and older, according to data from Reuters Health.
When you first log in to the members portal, you’ll find an interactive calendar with suggestions for activities and programs based on holidays, themes, seasons, and more. In the spring, for example, you might find activities around Earth Day, Gardening, Spring Poetry, Kentucky Derby, etc . As you see activities you like in the portal, you can save activities you like at the top of the homepage under “my saved ideas” for easy access later.
Need ideas for memory-care-specific programming? No problem. This content is tagged as “Rekindle” programming so residents won’t feel offended or uncomfortable since the activities aren’t directly flagged as “dementia” or “memory care” related.
The homepage also features “popular content right now” that rotates every month. This content ranges from printable games and writing prompts to guided games of Clue and lectures on astronomy.
Beyond the monthly content, you can find Eversound’s complete library of hundreds of activity programs by navigating through the five category tabs at the top of the home page, or you can click on the magnifying glass to search for specific content.