As we get older we start to have trouble hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also frequently regarded as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And could it be possible to protect your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically connected to hearing loss. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who cope with hearing loss also often have mental health problems like depression and anxiety. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some compelling clues. They believe two main situations are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are often the result of isolation. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with others. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. The region of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, like voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to stop mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who suffer from some form of dementia. 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 improve exponentially.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.