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

Because it’s simple, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all that’s required. A very relaxing way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an additional perk.

“Brain workouts” have become a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. At times, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and studies have shown that hearing aids could be capable of filling that role.

What is Mental Decline?

Your brain has a very use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Without stimulation, neural pathways have the tendency to fizzle. Your brain needs to create and reinforce neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.

While a certain amount of mental decline is a normal part of aging, there are some factors that can speed up or worsen that decline. Hearing loss, for instance, can introduce an especially formidable hazard for your cognitive health. When your hearing begins to decline, two things take place that really impact your brain:

  • You can’t hear as well: There’s not as much sound going in to stimulate 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. These changes have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline.
  • 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. Staying home to avoid conversations may seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (especially as your neglected hearing loss progresses). But this is not a good idea as it can deprive your brain of that necessary stimulation.

Together, these two things can cause a significant change in your brain. Loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately a higher risk of dementia have been linked to this type of mental decline.

Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So, this mental decline takes place because your hearing loss is being neglected. And it’s fairly clear what you need to do to reverse these declines: get your hearing impairment treated. For most people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.

The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-substantiated. Around 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.

Just using hearing aids brought about an almost universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:

  • Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it normally wouldn’t be, is most likely helpful. This portion of your brain will remain healthy and vital as long as you continue to hear ( with assistance from hearing aids).
  • One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain stays more engaged when you stay social. When you can follow conversations it’s much more fun to spend time with your friends.

Sudoko is Still a Good Idea

The University of Melbourne research isn’t an outlier. If you have untreated hearing loss, many studies have shown that using hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline. But many people have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little forgetful, spacey, or stressed.

That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and involved in a number of different ways can help expand the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise 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.
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