As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of aging. Maybe we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also frequently seen as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And could it be possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who cope with hearing loss also often have mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
There is a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are investigating some compelling clues. They think two main situations are responsible: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Countless studies show that solitude brings about depression and anxiety. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with others. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
Studies have also shown that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the reduced stimulation. The region of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overtaxes the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent mental decline
The weapon against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. 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 issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many people 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 improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.