As we age we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. 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 discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also frequently seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But what if the two were somehow related? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Mental decline and dementia are not typically connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will see a clear connection: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who have hearing loss also often have mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
While there isn’t any solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and several clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they believe lead to problems: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Countless studies show that isolation leads to depression and anxiety. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to 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 can’t hear clearly. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower 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 instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million 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 decrease 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 safeguard 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 start moving toward better mental health.