Want to suck all the joy out of your next family get-together? Start talking about dementia.
The topic of dementia can be very scary and most individuals aren’t going to purposely discuss it. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory issues. It isn’t something anyone looks forward to.
For this reason, many individuals are seeking a way to counter, or at least slow, the development of dementia. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
That may seem a bit… surprising to you. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss raise the risk of dementia?>
What happens when your hearing impairment goes untreated?
You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. You can simply turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Maybe the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong correlation. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. You could begin to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t talk with others as often. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this kind of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will begin to work much harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then have to get extra power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present theory). It’s believed that this might speed up the development of cognitive decline. Mental stress and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain having to work so hard.
You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.
One of the leading signs of dementia is hearing loss
Maybe your hearing loss is slight. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.
So one of the preliminary signs of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.
Now… What does that mean?
Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. 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 an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But that might actually be good news.
Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are several ways:
- You can take a few measures to protect your hearing from further damage if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. As an example, you could stay away from noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- Come see us so we can help you determine any hearing loss you might have.
- The impact of hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. So, can dementia be prevented by using hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be improved by wearing hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on conversations. Research suggests that managing hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That isn’t the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies
You can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. Here are a few examples:
- Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to lower it.
- Exercise is necessary for good overall health and that includes hearing health.
- Make sure you get enough sleep each night. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep per night to a higher risk of dementia.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your chance of experiencing cognitive decline (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
Needless to say, scientists are still studying the connection between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will decrease your overall risk of dementia. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely trips to the grocery store.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, perhaps in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.
So call us today for an appointment.