Hearing loss is generally 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 up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin to forget things?
Memory loss is also typically considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But what if the two were somehow connected? And, better yet, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
The connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will see a clear connection: studies reveal that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there isn’t any solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They have pinpointed two main situations that they believe result in problems: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with others. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead to isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
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’s responsible for understanding 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 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
The weapon against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who suffer from some form of dementia. If hearing aids can lower 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 safeguard your memory at the same time? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.