Hearing loss is commonly accepted as just another part of the aging process: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less distinctly. Perhaps we start turning the volume up on the TV, or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps…we begin to…where was I going with this…oh ya. Perhaps we start forgetting things.
Loss of memory is also often thought to be a regular part of getting older because dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more common in the older population than the general population at large. But is it possible that the two are connected somehow? And what if you could deal with your hearing loss while taking care of your mental health and protecting your memories?
Hearing Loss And Cognitive Decline
With about 30 million people in the United States suffering from hearing loss, cognitive decline and dementia, for most of them, isn’t linked to hearing loss. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the right places: research has shown that there is a significant chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be significantly impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health problems and that’s the real key here.
Why is Cognitive Decline Linked to Hearing Loss?
While there is no proven evidence or definitive proof that hearing loss leads to cognitive decline and mental health issues, experts are looking at several clues that point us in that direction. They have pinpointed two main scenarios which appear to lead to issues: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize when they suffer from hearing loss. Lots of people can’t enjoy events like attending a movie because they find it too hard to hear the dialog. These actions lead to a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
researchers have also discovered that the brain often has to work overtime because the ears are not functioning normally. When this takes place, other parts of the brain, such as the one responsible for memory, are utilized for hearing and comprehending sound. This causes cognitive decline to take place much quicker than it normally would.
How to Stop Cognitive Decline by Wearing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids improve our hearing permitting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal manner which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Research shows that patients increased their cognitive functions and were at a decreased chances for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
Actually, if more people wore their hearing aids, we might see less cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids even use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who have some form of dementia. The quality of life will be dramatically improved for individuals and families if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.