As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also normally regarded as a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were in some way related? And is it possible to protect your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will discover a clear connection: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who have hearing loss also frequently deal with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They have identified two main situations that they believe lead to issues: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Countless studies show that loneliness results in anxiety and depression. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with others. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of isolation.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The region of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that stores memories. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has shown that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see fewer cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals 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 almost 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 be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? 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.