Hearing loss is generally accepted as just a normal part of the aging process: as we age, we start 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 discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also normally regarded as a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were in some way related? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will discover a clear connection: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They think two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working harder to hear and social separation.
Many studies show that solitude leads to depression and anxiety. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with other people. 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 going to the movies. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. The part of the brain that processes 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 develop faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
How to fight mental 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 revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million people cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.