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

It’s impossible to forget getting your first car. How amazing was that sense of independence? It was your decision when and where you went and with who you hung out with. For many, 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? It’s not just the obvious reasons for having hearing aids, but also the less obvious factors that can help you maintain your independence. As it turns out, your hearing has a powerful impact on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

To demonstrate how well your brain will respond to change, consider this: Taking the same route as you always have, you leave for work. Now, suppose you go to make a corner only to discover the road is blocked. How would you respond? Do you give up and go back home? Unless you’re searching for an excuse to not go to work, probably not. Finding another route is most likely what you would choose to do. As long as your regular route was closed this new route would become your new routine. If this new route ended up being even more efficient, you would replace the old one with it.

When a normal brain function is blocked, your brain does the same thing. The term neuroplasticity defines when the brain reroutes it’s processing along alternative pathways.

Perfecting new abilities such as drawing or painting, or learning a brand new language are achieved by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Little by little, the physical changes to the brain adapt to correspond to the new paths and once-challenging tasks become automatic. Even though neuroplasticity is usually helpful for learning new skills, it’s also just as good at causing you to you forget what you already 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 inside of your brain will immediately begin to be re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to a report conducted by the University of Colorado. This is something you might not want it to be doing. The association between hearing loss and cognitive decrease can be explained by this.

If you have hearing loss, the parts of your brain responsible for functions, like vision or touch, can solicit the under-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. The available resources in your brain which are used to process sound are diminished and so is your ability to comprehend speech.

So, if you are constantly asking people to speak up, loss of hearing has already begun. Additionally, it could be a more substantial problem than injury to your inner ear, it’s possible that the untreated loss of hearing has induced your brain structure to alter.

Can Hearing Aids Help

This talent of the brain has a positive and a downside. Neuroplasticity elevates the overall performance of your hearing aids even though it may possibly make your hearing loss worse. Because your brain has the talent of regenerating tissue and to reroute neural pathways, you can make the most of the technology inside your ear. Hearing aids encourage mental growth by exciting the parts of the brain linked with loss of hearing.

In 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, followed over three thousand adults over the age of 65. What the scientists found was that the speed of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, participants 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.

We already understood a lot about neuroplasticity and this study confirms that understanding: the brain will coordinate functions according to your need and the amount of stimulus it receives. In other words, you need to, “use it or lose it.”

Maintaining a Youthful Brain

In short, the brain is versatile and can adapt itself substantially no matter what your age or stage in life. It’s also important to note that hearing loss can accelerate mental deterioration and that this decline can be reduced or even prevented by using hearing aids.

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, by challenging yourself with new activities, being socially active, and perhaps practicing mindfulness you can increase your brain’s performance regardless of your age.

To guarantee your quality of life, hearing aids are a must have. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is a common problem for people with hearing loss. If you want to stay active and independent, get a pair of hearing aids. After all, you want your brain to keep experiencing stimulation and processing the sounds that you hear so it will remain as young as you feel!