Because of its simplicity, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all you need. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the time. That it gives your brain a workout is an added perk.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to manage cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Recent studies have shown that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a nice little boost in mental stimulation, slowing the advancement of mental decline.
What is Mental Decline?
Your brain has a truly use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Without stimulus, neural connections tend to fizzle out. Your brain has to forge and strengthen neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While some mental decline is a natural process associated with aging, there are some things that can hasten or exacerbate that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can provide a particularly potent hazard for your mental health. Two things occur that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You can’t hear as well: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with all things hearing-related) gets weakened stimulation. Your brain could end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. A higher risk of mental decline has been associated with these changes.
- You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. Staying home to steer clear of conversations might seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (specifically as your neglected hearing loss progresses). But this is not a good idea as it can rob your brain of that needed stimulation.
These two factors, when put together, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. Loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and eventually a higher danger of dementia have been connected to this type of mental decline.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So, this cognitive decline happens because your hearing loss is going untreated. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is fairly obvious: deal with your hearing loss! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also surprising the degree that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. About 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.
Just using hearing aids resulted in an almost universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- One of the primary functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And the more social you can be, the more engaged your brain stays. When you can follow conversations it’s much more enjoyable to spend time with your friends.
- Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably helpful. As long as you keep hearing (with the assistance of hearing aids), this vital area of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have demonstrated that wearing hearing aids can help decrease mental decline. The problem is that not everybody knows that they have hearing loss. You might not even recognize the early symptoms. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than normal, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and keeping cognitively fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.