As we age we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Maybe we begin to turn the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin to forget things?
Loss of memory is also typically considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most individuals do not associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the connection is quite clear if you look in the right places: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are investigating some compelling clues. They have identified two main situations that they believe result in issues: your brain working extra hard to hear and social separation.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. These actions lead to isolation, which can bring about mental health problems.
Studies have also revealed that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the diminished stimulation. The part of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain strains to keep up.
How to fight cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see fewer cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who suffer from some form of dementia. 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 start hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.