As we age we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Maybe we begin to turn the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin to forget things?
Loss of memory is also normally considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not commonly connected to hearing loss. However, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think lead to problems: your brain working harder to hear and social isolation.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with other people. 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 lead to mental health problems.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. The region of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to fight mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has shown that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health problems 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. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 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 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.