Hearing loss is generally accepted as simply another part of the aging process: as we age, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps going up. We may even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also often regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more common in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, better yet, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most individuals do not connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. Nevertheless, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: studies reveal that there is a substantial 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 have hearing loss also frequently have mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there is no solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have identified two main situations that they think lead to problems: your brain working extra hard to hear and social separation.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are often the result of isolation. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with other people. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of solitude.
Studies have also shown that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the diminished stimulation. The region of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who deal with some form of dementia. If hearing aids can reduce that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.
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 reaching out to us for an appointment.