Hearing loss is typically accepted as just another part of getting older: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we begin to forget things?
Loss of memory is also normally regarded as a normal 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 what if the two were in some way related? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Most people don’t connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the connection is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also frequently deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
While there is no solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think lead to issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are often the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with others. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health problems can be the result of this path of solitude.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the diminished stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some form of dementia. If hearing aids can decrease 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 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.