As we age we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Maybe we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also frequently regarded as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
The connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Most people do not connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. Nevertheless, the link is quite clear if you look in the right places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also often have mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They have identified two main situations that they think lead to problems: your brain working harder to hear and social separation.
Countless studies show that isolation brings about anxiety and depression. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with other people. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard 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 isolation.
Studies have also revealed that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the reduced stimulation. The part of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain strains to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent mental decline
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can decrease that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.