As we age we start to have trouble hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also commonly regarded as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t commonly associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is very clear if you look in the right places: 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 issues 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 does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there is no solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They believe two main scenarios are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are often the result of loneliness. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can bring about mental health issues.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the reduced stimulation. The region of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent mental decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research shows that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see fewer instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people 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 deal with some form of dementia. For many people 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 reaching out to us for a consultation.