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Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Because of its simplicity, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. A pencil, some numbers, and a few grids are all that’s required. A very relaxing way to pass some hours, for many individuals, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an added bonus that it strengthens your brain.

It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with mental decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. At times, your brain needs a boost in mental activation and research has demonstrated that hearing aids might be able to fill that role.

What is Cognitive Decline?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural connections will fizzle without proper stimulation. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively develop and reinforce numerous neural pathways.

While some mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some variables that can speed up or exacerbate that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can provide an especially formidable danger for your cognitive health. When your hearing starts to diminish, two things take place that powerfully impact your brain:

  • You can’t hear as well: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). Your brain might end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. Increased danger of mental decline has been linked to these changes.
  • You go out less: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some people do when they suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss progresses, it might just seem simpler to stay inside to avoid conversation. This can rob your brain of even more input.

These two factors, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately an increased danger of dementia have been connected to this sort of mental decline.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So, this mental decline takes place because your hearing loss is going untreated. This means that the best way to reverse those declines is pretty obvious: deal with your hearing loss! In most cases, this means new hearing aids.

It’s well corroborated and also surprising the extent that hearing aids can slow down mental decline. Experts at the University of Melbourne interviewed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% reported that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.

That’s a nearly universal improvement, just from using hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:

  • One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And the more social you can be, the more engaged your brain remains. When you can follow conversations it’s a lot more enjoyable to socialize with your friends.
  • Discovering ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be helpful because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (with the assistance of hearing aids), this major area of your brain will continue to be stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

This new research from the University of Melbourne isn’t an outlier. Study after study seems to back up the notion that hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline, especially when that decline would be accelerated by neglected hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than usual, it may be worth checking with your hearing specialist.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you work out your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.