Hearing loss is typically accepted as just another part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also normally regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will discover a clear connection: studies show that there is a significant 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 problems including 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 does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they believe result in problems: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of loneliness. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of solitude.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Ultimately, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just use their hearing aids. 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 almost 50 million people who cope with some kind of dementia. For many individuals 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 begin hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.