Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also normally considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most people don’t associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear connection: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also often have mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
While there isn’t any solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They think two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working harder to hear and social isolation.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of isolation. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with others. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has revealed that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see less instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million people cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many people and families, the quality of life will be enhanced 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 make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.