Hearing loss is typically accepted as just a normal part of the aging process: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also often regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most people don’t associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will see a clear connection: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who cope with hearing loss also often have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are investigating some persuasive clues. They believe two main situations are responsible: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are often the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with other people. 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 the movie theater. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The part of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
The weapon against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. Studies show that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just use their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can decrease that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Get in touch with us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.