Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Because it’s simple, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all you need. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the hours. That it’s a workout for your brain is an additional perk.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. Often, your brain needs a boost in mental stimulation and research has revealed that hearing aids might be capable of filling that role.

What is Mental Decline?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural pathways have the tendency to fizzle. Your brain needs to make and reinforce neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.

There are certain things that will accelerate the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline associated with the aging process. A particularly formidable hazard for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. When your hearing starts to decline, two things happen that powerfully impact your brain:

  • You hear less: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with all things related to hearing) receives weakened stimulation. Your brain might end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. Increased risk of mental decline has been connected to these changes.
  • You don’t go out as much: 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 increases, it might just seem simpler to stay inside to avoid conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.

Together, these two factors can result in a major change in your brain. Loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately an increased risk of dementia have been related to this type of mental decline.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this type of cognitive decline can be the consequence. And it’s fairly obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.

It’s well substantiated and also surprising the degree that hearing aids can delay cognitive decline. Experts at the University of Melbourne surveyed approximately 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.

That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:

  • Discovering ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be beneficial because stimulation is the key to mental health. This area of your brain will stay healthy and vital as long as you continue to hear ( with help from hearing aids).
  • Helping you stay social is one of the key functions of any set of hearing aids. And the more social you are, the more engaged your brain remains. When you can understand conversations it’s a lot more fun to talk with your friends.

Sudoko is Still a Good Idea

The University of Melbourne study isn’t an outlier. Numerous studies seem to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow mental decline, specifically when that decline would be hastened by neglected hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and simply don’t recognize it. You may not even notice the early signs. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and staying mentally fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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