Woman with hearing loss happy to have her freedom and independence while riding in a convertible.

Remember when you got your first car? The feeling of freedom was unmatched. You could go anywhere, anytime, with whoever you wanted. For many people, getting their first hearing aids is a similar experience.

How can getting your first pair of hearing aids be compared to getting your first car? Even though there are well known benefits to being able to hear better, there are some not-so-obvious benefits which can help you keep your independent lifestyle. Come to find out, your hearing has a powerful effect on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

Your brain’s capacity to respond to changes can be explained as follows: You’re on the way to work, taking the same way you always take. You soon find that there is an accident stopping you from going through. How would you react? Do you just give up and go back home? Unless of course you’re searching for an excuse to not go to work, most likely not. Finding a different route is most likely what you would choose to do. If that new route was even quicker, or if your regular route remained restricted, the new route would come to be the new routine.

When a normal brain function is stopped, your brain does the exact same thing. The brain sends its processing down alternative pathways, and this re-routing process is called neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity can assist you in learning new languages, or to learn new skills such as martial arts or forming healthy habits. Little by little, the physical changes in the brain adjust to correspond to the new paths and once-challenging tasks become automatic. Although neuroplasticity is usually helpful for learning new skills, it can also be equally as good at causing you to you forget what you know.

Neuroplasticity And Loss of Hearing

Hearing loss is the perfect example of how neuroplasticity has a negative impact on your day-to-day life. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways in your brain will quickly start to be re-purposed if they stop processing sound according to a report conducted by the University of Colorado. This is something you might not want it to be working on. The link between hearing loss and cognitive decrease can be explained by this.

The parts of your brain which are responsible for hearing will be re-purposed for other functions like vision and touch. This decreases the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it impairs our capacity to understand speech.

So, if you find yourself saying “what was that?” regularly, you already have hearing loss. Additionally, it could be a more substantial problem than damage to your inner ear, it’s possible that the neglected hearing loss has caused your brain structure to change.

How Hearing Aids Can Help You

This talent of your brain has a positive and a negative. Neuroplasticity will probably make your hearing loss worse, but it also improves the overall performance of hearing aids. You can really take advantage of current hearing aid technology because of your brain’s ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. Because the hearing aids activate the parts of the brain that handle loss of hearing, they stimulate mental growth and development.

As a matter of fact, a long-term study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. It found that having a set of hearing aids diminished cognitive decline in people with hearing loss. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, observed over three thousand adults age 65 and older through a 25 year period. What the researchers discovered was that the speed of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, people that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.

The best part of this research is that we can confirm what we already understand about neuroplasticity: the brain will coordinate functions according to the current need and the amount of stimulation it receives. In other words, you need to, “use it or lose it.”

Having a Youthful Brain

To put it briefly, the brain is powerful and can change itself drastically no matter what your age or stage in life. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can hasten mental decline and that simply using hearing aids prevent or reduce this decline.

Hearing aids are state-of-the-art hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplification devices. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can enhance your brain function despite any health conditions by forcing yourself to complete challenging new activities, being socially active, and practicing mindfulness amongst other strategies.

Hearing aids are a crucial part of ensuring your quality of life. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is common for those with hearing loss. You can be sure to remain active and independent by getting a pair of hearing aids. Keep in mind that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to keep processing sound and receiving stimulation.

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