As we age we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps going up. We may even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also normally considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, better yet, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
The connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear link: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They believe two main situations are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. Mental health issues can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
Studies have also revealed that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the diminished stimulation. Ultimately, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
The first line of defense against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When people use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.