As we get older we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of aging. Maybe 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 start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also normally considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot 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, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t commonly connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will discover a clear connection: 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.
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 influence our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline impacted 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 looking at some persuasive clues. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think result in problems: your brain working extra hard to hear and social solitude.
Many studies show that isolation leads to anxiety and depression. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The region of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent mental decline
The weapon against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just use their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who suffer from some form of dementia. If hearing aids can reduce that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and safeguard your memory at the same time? Get in touch with us today and make an appointment for a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.