Because of its simplicity, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. All you need in order to play is a few grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very pleasant way to pass some time, for many individuals, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional perk.
“Brain workouts” have become a popular way of addressing mental decline. But there are other methods of slowing mental decline. Sometimes, your brain needs a boost in mental activation and research has shown that hearing aids could be capable of filling that role.
Mental Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a very use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Neural connections will fizzle without appropriate stimulus. That’s the reason why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively forge and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some things that can speed up or exacerbate that decline. A really potent danger for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. Two things happen that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You hear less: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain that deals with everything hearing-related) receives diminished stimulation. Your brain could end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. Increased risk of mental decline has been linked to these changes.
- You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. Staying in to avoid conversations might seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (specifically as your untreated hearing loss progresses). But this is not a good idea as it can rob your brain of that needed stimulation.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. This mental decline has often been linked to loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and (in the long term) higher risk of mental disorders like dementia.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is neglected, this kind of mental decline can be the consequence. And it’s pretty obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. For most people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.
The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be beneficial because stimulation is essential to mental health. This area of your brain will stay healthy and vital as long as you continue to hear ( with help from hearing aids).
- One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And your brain stays more involved when you stay social. When you can understand conversations it’s much more enjoyable to hang out with your friends.
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
This new research out of the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help reduce cognitive decline, specifically when that decline would be hastened by untreated hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. You may not even recognize the early signs. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little spacey, forgetful, or stressed.
You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and involved in numerous different ways can help expand the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Working your brain out and keeping cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.