Hearing loss is generally accepted as simply another part of getting older: as we age, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also often considered a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the connection is quite clear if you look in the right places: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there is no solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some connection and several clues that experts are looking at. They believe two main scenarios are responsible: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health problems can be the result of this path of solitude.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Ultimately, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to stop mental 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 reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the individuals 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 almost 50 million people who suffer from 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 begin hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.