As we age we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also commonly regarded as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t typically associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who have hearing loss also often deal with mental health problems like depression and anxiety. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and several clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main scenarios that they believe result in issues: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can result in mental health issues.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The region of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just use their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can lower that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.