As we age we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also often seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Most people don’t connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear link: studies reveal that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who have hearing loss. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
While there is no concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They believe two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working extra hard to hear and social separation.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of loneliness. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. 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. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the reduced stimulation. The part 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 stores memories. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to stop mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see fewer instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 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 improve exponentially.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and safeguard your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.