If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will probably put a dark cloud above the whole event.
The subject of dementia can be very frightening and most people aren’t going to purposely discuss it. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory issues. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.
So preventing or at least delaying dementia is a priority for many people. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.>
You might be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why are the risks of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?>
What takes place when your hearing impairment is neglected?
Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not too worried about it. You can just crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just turn on the captions.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Perhaps the signs are still easy to disregard. Either way, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong connection. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. This type of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. And naturally your social life. Further, most individuals who have this sort of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will begin to work a lot harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. The present theory is, when this occurs, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s thought that this could hasten the onset of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain having to work so hard.
You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.
One of the major signs of dementia is hearing loss
Let’s say you just have mild hearing impairment. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.
So one of the initial indications of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.
So… How should we understand this?
We’re considering risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will result in dementia. Rather, it just means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But that could actually be good news.
Your risk of dementia is lowered by successfully managing your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be managed? Here are several ways:
- Set up an appointment with us to diagnose your current hearing loss.
- Wearing a hearing aid can help reduce the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to have conversations. Your risk of developing dementia later in life is decreased by treating hearing loss, research indicates. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- You can take some steps to protect your hearing from further damage if you catch your hearing loss early enough. For example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
Lowering your risk of dementia – other strategies
Naturally, there are other things you can do to lower your chance of dementia, too. This could include:
- Get some exercise.
- Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of cognitive decline and will impact your overall health (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
- Getting enough sleep at night is imperative. Some studies have linked an increased chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. In some cases, medication can help here, some individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals could need medication sooner than later.
Needless to say, scientists are still studying the link between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complicated. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help reduce your overall risk of developing dementia down the line. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!