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Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Because of its simplicity, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all that’s required. A very enjoyable way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an added perk.

“Brain workouts” have become a popular way of addressing cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Often, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and studies have shown that hearing aids may be able to fill that role.

Mental Decline, What is it?

Your brain has a very use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Without stimulus, neural connections will fizzle out. That’s the reason why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively forge and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.

There are some things that will speed up the process that would be a normal amount of cognitive decline associated with aging. A particularly formidable danger for your mental health, for instance, is hearing loss. When your hearing begins to decline, two things happen that really affect your brain:

  • You hear less: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everyone). These changes have been linked to a higher danger of cognitive decline.
  • You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in a detrimental way. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem simpler to stay home to avoid conversation. This can rob your brain of even more input.

These two factors, when combined, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. Loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately an increased risk of dementia have been linked to this type of mental decline.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of mental decline can be the result. This means that the number one way to treat those declines is pretty clear: address your hearing impairment! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.

The degree to which hearing aids can slow mental decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. About 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months revealed a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.

Just using hearing aids brought about a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:

  • Helping you stay social is one of the primary functions of any pair of hearing aids. And the more social you can be, the more engaged your brain remains. It’s easier (and more fun) to hang with your friends when you can understand the conversation!
  • Stimulation is key to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is most likely helpful. As long as you continue to hear (with the assistance of hearing aids), this essential area of your brain will continue to be stimulated, active, and healthy.

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

This new study from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, numerous studies have revealed that using hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline. But many people have hearing loss and simply don’t recognize it. You might not even notice the early signs. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little forgetful, spacey, or stressed.

You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and engaged in numerous different ways can help broaden the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Working your brain out and staying cognitively fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.