Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, largely because of its simplicity. All you need in order to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. A very pleasant way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional perk.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to manage mental decline. But there are other methods of slowing cognitive decline. At times, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and research has demonstrated that hearing aids might be able to fill that role.
Cognitive Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a very use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Neural pathways will fizzle without appropriate stimulus. Your brain has to create and reinforce neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
There are some things that will quicken the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline connected with aging. A really formidable risk for your cognitive health, for instance, is hearing loss. When your hearing starts to diminish, two things occur that really affect your brain:
- You hear less: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with all things related to hearing) gets weakened stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some circumstances, for instance, your brain starts to prioritize visual information; but that isn’t true for everyone). Increased risk of cognitive decline has been linked to these changes.
- You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some people do when they have hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem easier to stay home to escape conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more input.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. This mental decline has frequently been linked to memory loss, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) higher risk of mental disorders like dementia.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So if your hearing loss is neglected, this kind of cognitive decline can be the outcome. This means that the best way to treat those declines is pretty clear: treat your hearing loss! Usually, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well corroborated and also surprising the degree that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. Around 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% reported that their mental decline either stabilized or reversed.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- One of the primary functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And your brain remains more engaged when you stay social. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
- Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be helpful because stimulation is the key to mental well being. This portion of your brain will continue to be vital and healthy as long as you keep hearing ( with help from hearing aids).
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
This new research from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have shown that using hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline. But many people have hearing loss and simply don’t recognize it. You may not even recognize the early signs. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a bit spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t automatically mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and engaged in a number of different ways can help expand the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.