Want to take all the fun out of your next family get-together? Start to talk about dementia.
Dementia isn’t a topic most people are actively seeking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose a grip on reality, experience memory loss, and brings about an over-all loss of mental faculties. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.
This is why many individuals are looking for a way to counter, or at least delay, the development of dementia. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.>
You may be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?>
What occurs when your hearing loss is neglected?
You recognize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of concerns. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.
But then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a solid correlation. That could have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. Consequently, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most individuals who have this type of isolation won’t even realize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will begin to work much harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is unbelievably taxing. Your brain will then need to get extra power from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the current concept). The idea is that over time this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain needing to work so hard.
You may have thought that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.
Hearing loss is one of the primary indicators of dementia
Let’s say you have only mild hearing loss. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, even with that, your risk of developing dementia is doubled.
Which means that even minor hearing loss is a fairly good preliminary indication of a dementia risk.
So… How should we interpret this?
Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will lead to dementia. Instead, it just means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that could actually be good news.
Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you reduce your chance of dementia. So how can you deal with your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain steps you can take to safeguard your hearing. For example, you could avoid noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re near anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- Come in and see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you might have.
- The affect of hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be stopped by using hearing aids? That’s difficult to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on conversations. Research suggests that treating hearing loss can help minimize your danger of developing dementia in the future. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
Other ways to reduce your dementia risk
Of course, there are other things you can do to decrease your risk of cognitive decline, too. Here are some examples:
- Get some exercise.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your chance of experiencing dementia (excess alcohol use can also go on this list).
- Be sure you get plenty of sleep every night. Some studies have linked a higher risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep per night.
- Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. In some cases, medication can help here, some people simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals may need medication sooner rather than later.
Of course, scientists are still studying the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complicated disease with a matrix of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, hearing better will help lower your overall danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be a big help.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!