Hearing loss is normally accepted as just another part of the aging process: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. 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…what was I going to say…oh ya. Perhaps we start to suffer memory loss.
Memory loss is also usually thought to be a regular part of aging because dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more prevalent in the senior citizen population than the general population at large. But what if the two were somehow connected? And, better yet, what if there was a way for you to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and your mental health?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With about 30 million people in the United States who have hearing loss, the majority of them do not associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, if you look in the right direction, the connection is very clear: if you suffer from hearing loss, there is considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to many studies – even if you have fairly mild loss of hearing.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also pretty prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health issues and that’s the real key here.
Why Does Hearing Loss Affect Cognitive Decline?
While there is no proven evidence or definitive evidence that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is clearly some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations which seem to result in problems: inability to socialize and your brain working extra time.
research has shown that loneliness goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with others. Many people find that it’s too difficult to have conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy activities like the movie theater. People who find themselves in this scenario often begin to isolate themselves which can cause mental health issues.
researchers have also discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime because the ears are not working like they should. The region of the brain that’s in control of comprehending sounds, such as voices in a conversation, demands more help from other portion of the brain – namely, the area of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This causes cognitive decline to occur much faster than it normally would.
Using Hearing Aids to Stop Cognitive Decline
Hearing aids restore our ability to hear allowing the brain to use it’s resources in a normal way which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Studies show that patients increased their cognitive functions and had a decreased rate of dementia when they managed their hearing loss using hearing aids.
As a matter of fact, if more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that there are almost 50 million individuals who have some form of dementia. If hearing aids can decrease that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.