Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply a normal part of the aging process: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we begin to turn the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin to forget things?
Loss of memory is also normally considered a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear connection: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who cope with hearing loss also frequently deal with mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They believe two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Many studies show that isolation results in depression and anxiety. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with others. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to 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. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and safeguard your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.