You will never forget getting your first car. Nothing can be compared to that sense of independence. It was your choice when and where you went and with who you hung out with. Many people with loss of hearing have this same type of experience when they get their first hearing aids.
How could investing in your first pair of hearing aids be like getting your first car? There are some less obvious reasons why wearing hearing aids will help you keep your independence. It so happens that your brain’s functionality is profoundly affected by loss of hearing.
The following example demonstrates how your brain reacts to changes: You’re on the way to your job, following the same way you always do. As you go to make the first right you find that the road is blocked. How would you react? Do you just give up and go home? Most likely not unless of course you’re trying to find a reason to avoid going to work. You would most likely quickly find a different way to go. If that route was even quicker, or if the primary route stayed closed for some time, the new route would become the new everyday routine.
When a normal brain function is stopped, your brain does the same thing. The name neuroplasticity defines the brain’s process of rerouting along alternative pathways.
Mastering new skills such as juggling, or learning a new language are carried out by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Tasks that were once-challenging come to be automatic as physical modifications to the brain slowly adjust to match the new pathways. Neuroplasticity can be just as good at causing you to forget what you already know as it is at helping you learn new things.
Hearing Loss And Neuroplasticity
Hearing loss is the perfect example of how neuroplasticity has a negative impact on your day-to-day life. As explained in The Hearing Review, researchers from the University of Colorado found that even in the early phases of hearing loss, if your brain stops working to process sounds, it will be re-purposed for something else. And it probably isn’t ideal for them to change in that way. The connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline can be explained by this.
The parts of your brain that are responsible for hearing will be re-purposed for different functions like vision and touch. This diminishes the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it impairs our capability of understanding speech.
So, if you are continuously asking people to repeat themselves, hearing loss has already begun. What’s more, it might be a more substantial problem than injury to your inner ear, it’s probable that the untreated loss of hearing has induced your brain structure to change.
How Hearing Aids Can Help You
As with anything, you get both a negative and positive side to this amazing ability. Neuroplasticity may possibly make your hearing loss worse, but it also enhances the performance of hearing aids. You can definitely make the most of current hearing aid technology because of the brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. Since the hearing aids activate the parts of the brain that handle loss of hearing, they encourage mental growth and development.
As a matter of fact, a long-term study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Cognitive decline was decreased in people with hearing aids, according to this study. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, observed over three thousand adults age 65 and older over a 25 year period. What the scientists found was that the speed of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, people that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss displayed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.
The most useful part of this study is that we can confirm what we already understand about neuroplasticity: if you don’t use it you will end up losing it because the brain organizes its functions according to the amount of stimulation it gets and the need at hand.”
Maintaining a Young Brain
The brain is versatile and can adapt itself at any time regardless of your age. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can accelerate mental deterioration and that simple hearing aids prevent or minimize this decline.
Hearing aids are not cheap over-the-counter sound amplification devices, they are high-tech hearing technology. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by challenging yourself with new activities, being socially active, and perhaps practicing mindfulness you can enhance your brain’s functionality regardless of your age is.
To ensure your quality of life, hearing aids are a must. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is common for people with hearing loss. If you want to stay active and independent, invest in a pair of hearing aids. Don’t forget that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to continue processing sound and receiving stimulation.