Because it’s simple, Sudoku is a globally popular puzzle game. All you require to play is a few grids, a pencil, and some numbers. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the time. It’s an additional bonus that it strengthens your brain.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to manage mental decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. Current studies have demonstrated that hearing aids may be capable of providing your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, reducing the progression of mental decline.
Cognitive Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a rather use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Neural pathways will fizzle out without proper stimulus. Your brain has to make and reinforce neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some variables that can speed up or quicken that decline. An especially potent danger for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. When your hearing starts to diminish, two things occur that really impact your brain:
- You hear less: There’s not as much sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). Your brain may end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. Increased danger of cognitive decline has been linked to these changes.
- You go out less: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss progresses, it might just seem simpler to stay home to escape conversation. But this is not a good idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.
These two things, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. This cognitive decline has commonly been connected to memory loss, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) greater danger of mental illness like dementia.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So if your hearing loss is neglected, this kind of cognitive decline can be the result. And it’s pretty obvious what you need to do to reverse these declines: get your hearing impairment treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. Around 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.
Just wearing hearing aids resulted in a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is key to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably advantageous. This area of your brain will continue to be healthy and vital as long as you keep hearing ( with assistance from hearing aids).
- Helping you remain social is one of the key functions of any set of hearing aids. And your brain stays more involved when you stay social. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to talk with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne study isn’t an outlier. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline, specifically when that decline would be accelerated by untreated hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than usual, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
You should still keep doing Sudoku and other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and engaged in a number of different ways can help broaden the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Working your brain out and keeping cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.