Hearing loss is typically 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 the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin to forget things?
Memory loss is also typically considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more common in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will discover a clear link: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
There is a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think result in issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of isolation. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too hard to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. These actions lead to isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The part of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can lower that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and safeguard your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for a consultation.