As we get older we start to have trouble hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Maybe we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also normally considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Mental decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear link: studies show that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Individuals who cope with hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues 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 mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some persuasive clues. They think two main situations are responsible: your brain working extra hard to hear and social solitude.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are often the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many people who suffered from 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. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of solitude.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the diminished stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When people 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 cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more individuals would just use their hearing aids. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some kind of dementia. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved 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 in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.