As we age we start 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 grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin forgetting things?
Memory loss is also often considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more common in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And could it be possible to safeguard your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear connection: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They have identified two main scenarios that they think lead to problems: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Countless studies show that loneliness results in depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of isolation.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the diminished 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 mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more individuals would just use their hearing aids. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many people and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.