As we get older we begin to have difficulty 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 often seen as a standard 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 in some way connected? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t usually connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will see a clear link: studies show that there is a significant 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.
People who cope with hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The key 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 isn’t any solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They believe two main situations are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Countless studies show that loneliness brings about depression and anxiety. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with others. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the diminished stimulation. Ultimately, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When patients use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see less cases of mental health issues 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. Nearly 50 million people cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and safeguard your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.