As we age we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of growing older. 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 maybe we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also typically regarded as a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia are not usually associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is very 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.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are exploring some persuasive clues. They have identified two main situations that they think lead to problems: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Countless studies show that loneliness brings about depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of solitude.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the diminished stimulation. The part of the brain that’s responsible for understanding 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 progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just use their hearing aids. Of all the individuals who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 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 in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.