Hearing loss is usually accepted as simply another part of the aging process: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also typically considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But what if the two were in some way related? And, better yet, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Mental decline and dementia are not usually associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear link: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who cope with hearing loss also often have mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are investigating some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they believe lead to problems: your brain working harder to hear and social isolation.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of loneliness. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. Mental health issues can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain often has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental decline will then develop faster than normal as the overworked brain strains to keep up.
Using hearing aids to stop mental decline
The weapon against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. Research has shown that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many people and families, the quality of life will be enhanced 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 trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for a consultation.