If you start talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will probably put a dark cloud over the whole event.
Dementia is not a topic most people are actively seeking to discuss, mainly because it’s pretty scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, makes you lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and causes an over-all loss of mental function. Nobody wants to go through that.
This is why many individuals are looking for a way to counter, or at least slow, the development of dementia. There are some 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 are the risks of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?>
When you disregard hearing loss, what are the consequences?
Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you aren’t that worried about it. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.
On the other hand, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to disregard. Cognitive decline and hearing loss are clearly linked either way. That may have something to do with what occurs when you have untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. Consequently, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this type of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will be working overtime. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This is unbelievably taxing. The current theory is, when this happens, your brain pulls power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s thought that this might quicken the onset of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain having to work so hard.
You may have thought that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it actually is.
Hearing loss is one of the major indicators of dementia
Let’s say you only have slight hearing loss. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, even with that, your chance of getting dementia is doubled.
So one of the initial signs of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that mean?
Well, it’s essential not to forget that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased chance of developing cognitive decline. But that can actually be good news.
Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you decrease your chance of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are several ways:
- You can take some steps to safeguard your hearing from further harm if you catch your hearing loss early enough. You could, for instance, use ear protection if you work in a noisy environment and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
- Make an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.
- Wearing a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. So, can dementia be avoided by wearing hearing aids? That’s difficult to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. This is why: You’ll be able to participate in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is reduced by managing hearing loss, research suggests. That isn’t the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods
Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of dementia, too. Here are a few examples:
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep every night. Some research links a higher risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise is necessary for good overall health including hearing health.
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to take medication to lower it.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, and that includes your risk of developing cognitive decline (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complicated. But any way you can lower your risk is good.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, hearing better will help reduce your general risk of developing dementia in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely trips to the grocery store.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And a small amount of hearing loss management, perhaps in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!