As we age we start to have trouble hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of aging. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
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 general population. But what if the two were in some way related? And, even better, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most individuals don’t connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. Nevertheless, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there is no concrete finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think result in problems: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Many individuals 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 isolation.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the reduced stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain strains to keep up.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health issues and mental decline is hearing aids. 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.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see less instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals 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 improve exponentially.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.