Hearing loss is thought of as a normal part of the aging process: we begin to hear things less distinctly as we age. Perhaps we need to keep asking the grandkids to speak up when they talk, or we have to start turning up the volume on the TV, or maybe…we start…what was I going to say…oh yes. Perhaps we begin to lose our memory.
The general population has a much lower rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s than the elderly population. That’s why memory loss is regarded as a normal part of aging. But is it possible that the two are connected somehow? And what if you could manage your hearing loss while taking care of your mental health and protecting your memories?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With almost 30 million individuals in the United States suffering from hearing loss, cognitive decline and dementia, for the majority of them, isn’t linked to hearing loss. However, the link is very clear if you look in the right direction: studies show that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are also quite prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health problems and that’s the real key here.
Why Does Hearing Loss Affect Cognitive Decline?
While there is no concrete evidence or conclusive evidence that hearing loss leads to cognitive decline and mental health problems, experts are looking at a number of clues that point us in that direction. They have pinpointed two main scenarios which seem to lead to issues: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. And people are less likely to socialize when they suffer from hearing loss. Lots of people can’t enjoy things like attending a movie because they find it too hard to hear the dialog. These actions lead to a path of solitude, which can result in mental health problems.
Also, researchers have found that the brain often has to work overtime because the ears aren’t working normally. When this happens, other areas of the brain, such as the one used for memory, are tapped for hearing and comprehending sound. This causes cognitive decline to take place a lot quicker than it normally would.
How to Avoid Cognitive Decline With Hearing Aids
Hearing aids restore our hearing letting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal way which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Research has shown that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased chances for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
As a matter of fact, we would likely see fewer instances of dementia and cognitive decline if more people actually wore hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. The World Health Organization reports that there are nearly 50 million people who have some form of dementia. If hearing aids can lower that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will develop exponentially.