As we age we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also commonly 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 maintain your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: studies show that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are investigating some persuasive clues. They have identified two main situations that they think lead to issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are often the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can result in mental health issues.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the reduced stimulation. The region of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, requires 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 much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who suffer from some kind of dementia. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.