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Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, mainly because of its simplicity. All you require in order to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the time. It’s an additional bonus that it’s good for your brain.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. Often, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and research has revealed that hearing aids could be capable of filling that role.

What is Mental Decline?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulus, neural connections will fizzle. 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.

There are a few things that will hasten the process that would be an ordinary amount of mental decline associated with getting older. Hearing loss, for example, can provide an especially potent hazard for your cognitive health. When your hearing starts to decline, two things happen that really impact your brain:

  • You can’t hear as well: There is less sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that isn’t true for everybody). These changes have been linked to an increased danger of mental decline.
  • You go out less: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. As your hearing loss progresses, it might just seem simpler to stay home to avoid conversation. But this is not a good idea as it can rob your brain of that needed stimulation.

Combined, these two factors can cause a major change in your brain. Loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and ultimately an increased danger of dementia have been connected to this type of cognitive decline.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So, this mental decline happens because your hearing loss is going untreated. This means that the number one way to treat those declines is pretty clear: treat your hearing impairment! Usually, this means new hearing aids.

The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Experts at the University of Melbourne interviewed about 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, more than 97% reported that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.

Just wearing hearing aids resulted in an almost universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:

  • One of the primary functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain stays. When you can understand conversations it’s much more fun to talk with your friends.
  • Stimulation is key to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it normally wouldn’t be, is most likely advantageous. This portion of your brain will stay healthy and vital as long as you continue to hear ( with assistance from hearing aids).

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

The University of Melbourne study isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems to back up the notion that hearing aids can help slow down mental decline, especially when that decline would be hastened by untreated hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and involved in a number of different ways can help broaden the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Exercising and staying cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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