As we age we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also often viewed as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But what if the two were somehow related? And could it be possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most people do not connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the link is very clear if you look in the appropriate places: studies reveal that there is a substantial 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 such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there is no concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They think two main scenarios are responsible: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that solitude brings about anxiety and depression. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in 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 bring about mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have found 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’s responsible for understanding 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. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
How to fight cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just use their hearing aids. Of all the individuals who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear 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 people and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.