As we get older we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Perhaps we start turning the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start forgetting things?
Memory loss is also often considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the right places: studies reveal that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who suffer from hearing loss. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
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 isolation leads to anxiety and depression. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with other people. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard 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 bring about mental health issues.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the reduced stimulation. The part of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that stores memories. 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 stop mental decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see less cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people 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 nearly 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce 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 reaching out to us for a consultation.