Texas Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, LLP - Bedford, Grapevine and Southlake, TX

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Sudoku is a global, popular puzzle game, largely because of its simplicity. All you require to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. For many individuals, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the time. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional bonus.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with cognitive decline. But there are other means of delaying cognitive decline. Often, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and research has shown that hearing aids could be capable of filling that role.

What is Cognitive Decline?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle out without appropriate stimulation. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce numerous neural pathways.

While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural process associated with aging, there are some variables that can speed up or exacerbate that decline. Hearing loss, as an example, can provide an especially potent danger for your mental health. Two things take place that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing starts to go:

  • You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with all things related to hearing) gets reduced stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some situations, for example, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that’s not true for everybody). These changes have been connected to an increased risk of mental decline.
  • You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss progresses, it might just seem simpler to stay inside to escape conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more input.

These two things, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. This cognitive decline has often been connected to loss of memory, problems concentrating, and (over time) higher danger of mental disorders like dementia.

Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of mental decline can be the outcome. This means that the number one way to treat those declines is fairly clear: deal with your hearing impairment! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.

The degree to which hearing aids can slow mental decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% revealed that their mental decline either stopped or reversed.

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

  • Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be beneficial because stimulation is essential to mental well being. As long as you keep hearing (with the assistance of hearing aids), this vital region of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.
  • One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And the more social you can be, the more involved your brain remains. When you can understand conversations it’s a lot more fun to talk with your friends.

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

This new study out of the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies appear to back up the notion that hearing aids can help reduce cognitive decline, especially when that decline would be hastened by neglected hearing loss. The dilemma is that not everyone recognizes that they have hearing loss. You may not even notice the early signs. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than usual, it might be worth checking with your hearing specialist.

That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t automatically mean you should give up on your Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and flexible and give you better overall cognitive function. Working your brain out and keeping mentally fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.

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