If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will probably put a dark cloud above the entire event.
The topic of dementia can be really scary and most individuals aren’t going to purposely discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and brings about a general loss of mental faculties. Nobody wants to go through that.
So preventing or at least slowing dementia is important for many people. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have some fairly clear connections and correlations.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why are the risks of dementia increased with hearing loss?>
What happens when your hearing loss goes untreated?
Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not too worried about it. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
But then again, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still subtle. Mental decline and hearing impairment are firmly connected either way. That might have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others because of this. You may become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as often. This kind of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many people who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will start to work much harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is unbelievably taxing. Your brain will then have to get additional energy from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the present concept). The idea is that after a while this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, like mental stress and tiredness.
You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.
One of the principal signs of dementia is hearing loss
Maybe your hearing loss is slight. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to develop dementia as somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.
So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
So… How should we understand this?
We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased chance of developing cognitive decline. But that can actually be good news.
Because it means that successfully dealing with your hearing loss can help you decrease your chance of cognitive decline. So how can you manage your hearing loss? There are a number of ways:
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. You could, for instance, use ear protection if you work in a noisy setting and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
- The impact of hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be avoided by wearing hearing aids? That’s hard to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t have to work so hard to have conversations. Research implies that treating hearing loss can help decrease your risk of developing dementia in the future. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Make an appointment with us to identify your present hearing loss.
Other ways to lower your dementia risk
You can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. Here are some examples:
- Exercise is necessary for good overall health and that includes hearing health.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your risk of dementia and will impact your overall health (excess alcohol use can also go on this list).
- Getting enough sleep at night is imperative. Some research links an increased chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
- A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to use medication to lower it.
The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, hearing better will help reduce your general risk of developing dementia in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a small amount of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.
So call us today for an appointment.