As we age we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin forgetting things?
Memory loss is also often regarded as a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But what if the two were in some way related? And could it be possible to safeguard your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Mental decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will discover a clear link: studies reveal that there is a considerable 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 problems including depression and anxiety. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They think two main situations are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that isolation leads to depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can result in mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work harder 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, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that stores memories. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overworked brain strains to keep up.
How to fight cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see less instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals 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 begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.