Want to suck all the joy out of your next family gathering? Start to talk about dementia.
The subject of dementia can be very scary and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, makes you lose touch with reality, experience loss of memory, and causes a general loss of mental faculties. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.
So preventing or at least slowing dementia is important for many people. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, actually)? Why does hearing loss raise the risk of dementia?>
When you neglect hearing loss, what are the repercussions?
You recognize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your tv won’t solve, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just turn on the captions.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Perhaps the signs are still easy to disregard. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are clearly connected either way. That might have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. As a result, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself like this. And naturally your social life. What’s more, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will be working overtime. Your ears will get less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This is extremely taxing. Your brain will then have to get additional power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present theory). The thinking is that over time this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain having to work so hard.
You may have thought that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it actually is.
Hearing loss is one of the primary signs of dementia
Let’s say you have only slight hearing impairment. Whispers may get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to develop dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.
So one of the preliminary signs of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that suggest?
We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a greater chance of developing cognitive decline. But there might be an upside.
Because it means that successfully dealing with your hearing loss can help you reduce your chance of cognitive decline. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some steps you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a loud environment and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
- Using a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. So, can cognitive decline be avoided by using hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be improved by wearing hearing aids. This is the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Research indicates that treating hearing loss can help minimize your danger of developing dementia when you get older. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Make an appointment with us to identify your existing hearing loss.
Lowering your risk of dementia – other strategies
Naturally, there are other things you can do to decrease your chance of cognitive decline, too. Here are some examples:
- Be sure you get enough sleep each night. Some research links a higher chance of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep every night.
- Eating a healthy diet, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. In some cases, medication can help here, some individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people could need medication sooner than later.
- Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of cognitive decline as well as impacting your overall health (excess alcohol use can also go on this list).
- Exercise is needed for good overall health and that includes hearing health.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being examined by scientists. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can decrease your risk is good.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help reduce your overall risk of developing cognitive decline down the line. You’ll be bettering your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely visits to the grocery store.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So call us today for an appointment.