Woman with hearing loss happy to have her freedom and independence while riding in a convertible.

Remember when you got your first car? How awesome was that sense of independence? It was your choice when and where you went and with who you hung out with. For many, getting their first hearing aids is a similar experience.

How can getting your first pair of hearing aids be compared to getting your first car? There are some less obvious reasons why having hearing aids can help you keep your independence. It so happens that your brain’s functionality is profoundly impacted by loss of hearing.

Neuroplasticity

To show how efficiently your brain will react to change, think about this: Following the exact same route as you always do, you leave for work. You soon discover that there is an car accident blocking your way. How would you react? Do you just quit and go home? Unless you’re looking for a reason to not go to work, most likely not. More likely, you’ll take a different route. If that new route happened to be even more efficient, or if your regular route remained restricted, the new route would become your new routine.

When a normal brain function is stopped, your brain does the exact same thing. Brand new pathways are forged in the brain due to a function called neuroplasticity.

Mastering new abilities such as drawing or painting, or learning a new language are carried out by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Slowly, the physical changes in the brain adapt to match the new paths and tasks that were once challenging become automatic. Even though neuroplasticity can be beneficial for learning new things, it can also be equally as good at causing you to you forget what you know.

Hearing Loss And Neuroplasticity

Hearing loss is the perfect example of how neuroplasticity has a negative impact on your day-to-day life. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways in your brain will immediately begin to be re-purposed if they stop processing sound according to a study conducted by the University of Colorado. This is something you may not want it to be working on. The association between loss of hearing and cognitive decay can be explained by this.

The parts of your brain which are responsible for hearing will be re-purposed for other functions such as vision and touch. The available resources in your brain used to process sound are decreased and so is your capacity to understand speech.

So, if you find yourself saying “what was that?” frequently, you already have hearing loss. And even more significant is the reality that your brain may already be beginning to restructure.

Can Hearing Aids Help

As with anything, there is both a negative and positive side to this awesome ability. Neuroplasticity improves the performance of your hearing aids even though it may possibly make your hearing loss worse. You can really make the most of current hearing aid technology because of the brain’s ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. Hearing aids encourage mental growth by exciting the parts of the brain linked with hearing loss.

As a matter of fact, a long-term study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Cognitive decline was lessened in people with hearing aids, according to this study. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, followed over three thousand adults over the age of 65. What the scientists found was that the speed of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, people that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.

The most useful part of this research is that we can validate what we already understand about neuroplasticity: the brain will coordinate functions according to the current need and the amount of stimulus it is given. To put it another way, you need to, “use it or lose it.”

Retaining a Youthful Brain

It doesn’t matter how old you are, the versatility of the brain means that it can modify itself at any time. It’s also important to note that hearing loss can hasten mental deterioration and that simple hearing aids can stop or reduce this decline.

Hearing aids are not simple over-the-counter amplification devices, they are high-tech hearing technology. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by challenging yourself with new activities, being socially active, and perhaps practicing mindfulness you can enhance your brain’s functionality regardless of your age is.

To guarantee your quality of life, hearing aids are a must have. People who have hearing loss may become withdrawn or isolated. You can be sure to stay active and independent by getting a pair of hearing aids. Keep in mind that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to continue processing sound and receiving stimulation.

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