Hearing Health Blog

Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, mainly because of its simplicity. All you require to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. For many individuals, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the hours. That it’s a workout for your brain is an added bonus.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to manage mental decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Current studies have revealed that hearing aids might be capable of providing your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, slowing down the progression of mental decline.

Mental Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural pathways will fizzle out. That’s the reason why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively develop and strengthen numerous neural pathways.

There are a few things that will speed up the process that would be a normal amount of cognitive decline connected with the aging process. Hearing loss, for example, can provide a particularly formidable risk for your mental health. When your hearing begins to diminish, two things occur that really impact your brain:

  • You can’t hear as well: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain responsible for everything hearing-related) gets weakened stimulation. Your brain may end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. A higher risk of cognitive decline has been linked to these changes.
  • You go out less: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some people do when they have hearing loss. Staying home to avoid conversations may seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (especially as your untreated hearing loss progresses). But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.

Put together, these two factors can be the cause of a significant change in your brain. Memory loss, trouble concentrating, and eventually a higher risk of dementia have been connected to this kind of mental decline.

Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this type of cognitive decline can be the consequence. And it’s pretty obvious what you need to do to reverse these declines: get your hearing loss treated. In most cases, this means new hearing aids.

It’s well corroborated and also unexpected the extent that hearing aids can slow down mental decline. Around 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 wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.

That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:

  • Discovering ways to activate your auditory cortex would be helpful because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you keep hearing (assisted by hearing aids), this vital area of your brain will continue to be stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
  • One of the main functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain stays. When you can follow conversations it’s a lot more fun to hang out with your friends.

Sudoko is Still a Smart Idea

This new research from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies seem to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline, especially when that decline would be accelerated by neglected hearing loss. The dilemma is that not everyone recognizes that they have hearing loss. You may not even recognize the early symptoms. So it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little forgetful, spacey, or strained.

You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you better general cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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