Hearing loss is thought of as a typical part of getting older: we begin to hear things less distinctly as we grow older. Maybe we start turning the volume up on the TV, or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps…we begin to…where was I going with this…oh ya. Perhaps we start to suffer memory loss.
Loss of memory is also commonly thought of as a regular part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more prevalent in the older population than the general population. But what if the two were somehow connected? And what if you could deal with your hearing loss while taking care of your mental health and protecting your memories?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With almost 30 million people in the United States suffering from hearing loss, mental decline and dementia, for the majority of them, isn’t linked to hearing loss. However, the link is very clear if you look in the right direction: if you have hearing loss, there is significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to numerous studies – even if you have fairly mild loss of hearing.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who have hearing loss. The main point is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all have an impact on our ability to socialize.
Why Does Hearing Loss Affect Cognitive Decline?
While there are no concrete findings or definitive proof that hearing loss results in cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is obviously some connection and several clues that experts are looking at. There are two primary circumstances they have identified that they think contribute to problems: your brain working harder than it would normally have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. And when people are dealing with hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with other people. Lots of people can’t enjoy things like attending a movie because they find it too difficult to hear the dialog. These actions lead to a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the brain frequently has to work extra hard because the ears are not functioning like they should. When this takes place, other parts of the brain, like the one used for memory, are tapped for hearing and understanding sound. This causes cognitive decline to occur a lot quicker than it normally would.
Using Hearing Aids to Stop Cognitive Decline
Hearing aids improve our ability to hear letting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal way which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Studies show that patients improved their cognitive functions and had a lower rate of dementia when they managed their hearing loss using hearing aids.
As a matter of fact, we would most likely see fewer instances of dementia and cognitive decline if more people actually wore hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids actually use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. It’s estimated by the World Health Organization that there are nearly 50 million people who have some kind of dementia. The quality of life will be drastically improved for individuals and families if hearing aids can lessen that number by even a couple million people.