As we get older we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also normally regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t commonly connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will discover a clear connection: studies show that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
People who have hearing loss also frequently deal with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think result in problems: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with others. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. The part of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, like voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
How to stop mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has revealed that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just wear their hearing aids. 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 almost 50 million people who cope with some form of dementia. For many people and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can decrease 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.