As we get older we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Perhaps we begin to turn the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also frequently regarded as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But what if the two were in some way connected? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia are not commonly connected to hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is very clear if you look in the appropriate places: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
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 association, experts are investigating some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they believe result in issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are often the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with other people. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can bring about mental health problems.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the reduced stimulation. The part of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals 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 nearly 50 million people who suffer from some form of dementia. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.