Hearing loss is generally accepted as just another part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less intelligibly. 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 maybe…we start…where was I going with this…oh ya. Maybe we begin to forget things.
The general population has a much lower rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s than the elderly population. That’s why memory loss is regarded as a normal part of aging. But what if the two were somehow connected? And, even better, what if there were a way for you to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With nearly 30 million individuals in the United States suffering from hearing loss, the majority of them do not associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. However, if you look in the right place, the connection is quite clear: if you suffer from hearing loss, there is significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to numerous studies – even if you have fairly mild loss of hearing.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also quite prevalent in people who have hearing loss. The main point is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all have an impact on our ability to socialize.
Why Does Hearing Loss Affect Cognitive Decline?
While there are no concrete findings or conclusive proof that hearing loss leads to cognitive decline and mental health issues, experts are looking at a number of clues that point us in that direction. They have pinpointed two main situations which seem to lead to issues: failure to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that loneliness goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety. And people are less likely to socialize when they are dealing with hearing loss. Lots of people can’t enjoy things like attending a movie because they find it too hard to hear the dialog. People who find themselves in this scenario tend to start to isolate themselves which can lead to mental health problems.
Also, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work overtime because the ears are not functioning like they should. The region of the brain that’s in control of comprehending sounds, such as voices in a conversation, calls for more help from other areas of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that used for memory. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much quicker than if the brain could process sounds correctly.
How to Stop Cognitive Decline by Wearing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids restore our ability to hear permitting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal manner which is our best defense for dealing with cognitive decline and dementia. Research shows that people increased their cognitive functions and were at a decreased chances for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
Actually, we would probably see less cases of dementia and cognitive decline if more people actually wore hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids even use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. The World Health Organization reports that there are almost 50 million individuals who deal with some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can lessen that figure by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for lots of individuals and families will develop exponentially.