Want to take all the joy out of your next family get-together? Start talking about dementia.
The subject of dementia can be very scary and most individuals aren’t going to purposely discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience loss of memory, and brings about an over-all loss of mental faculties. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.
For this reason, many people are seeking a way to prevent, or at least slow, the development of dementia. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have some pretty clear connections and correlations.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss raise the risk of dementia?>
What occurs when your hearing loss is neglected?
You realize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll simply put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Perhaps the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a solid connection. That may have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. This sort of social isolation is, well, not good for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this kind of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will start to work much harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is extremely taxing. Your brain will then need to get additional power from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the current concept). It’s believed that this could quicken the onset of cognitive decline. Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and tiredness.
You might have thought that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it actually is.
One of the leading signs of dementia is hearing loss
Perhaps your hearing loss is mild. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else is just fine. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to develop dementia as someone who does not have hearing loss.
Meaning that even mild hearing loss is a pretty strong preliminary sign of a dementia risk.
So… How should we understand this?
Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will result in dementia. Instead, it just means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.
Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you reduce your risk of dementia. So how can hearing loss be managed? Here are several ways:
- Using a hearing aid can help decrease the impact of hearing loss. So, can dementia be prevented by using hearing aids? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be improved by using hearing aids. Here’s why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on discussions. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is decreased by treating hearing loss, research suggests. That isn’t the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
- You can take a few steps to protect your hearing from further damage if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment and avoid noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
- Set up an appointment with us to diagnose your current hearing loss.
Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods
You can minimize your chance of dementia by doing some other things as well, of course. Here are some examples:
- Get some exercise.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your risk of experiencing cognitive decline (excess alcohol drinking is also on this list).
- Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals could need medication sooner rather than later.
- Be sure you get enough sleep every night. Some studies have linked a higher chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep each night.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help lower your general danger of developing dementia in the future. You’ll be bettering your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
Losing out on the important things in life stinks. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!