As we age we start to have trouble hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of aging. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also commonly seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Mental decline and dementia aren’t typically connected to hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is quite clear if you look in the right places: studies reveal that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
People who have hearing loss also frequently have mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are exploring some compelling clues. They think two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Countless studies show that isolation results in depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too difficult 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 bring about mental health problems.
In addition, researchers have discovered 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’s responsible for understanding sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overtaxes the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to stop mental decline
The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. For many individuals 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 safeguard your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for a consultation.