Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also often viewed as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But what if the two were in some way related? And, better yet, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will discover a clear connection: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also have hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
People who have hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and several clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think lead to problems: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Countless studies show that isolation results in depression and anxiety. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The region of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just use their hearing aids. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million people cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can reduce that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to start 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.