As we get older we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of aging. 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 perhaps we begin forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also commonly viewed as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But what if the two were in some way related? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t usually associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will see a clear connection: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also frequently deal with mental health issues including anxiety and depression. 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 concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main scenarios that they think lead to issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of loneliness. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in 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.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain often has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Ultimately, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has shown that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the individuals who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.