Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, largely because of its simplicity. All you need in order to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very relaxing way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an added bonus that it’s good for your brain.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to deal with mental decline. But there are other methods of slowing cognitive decline. At times, your brain needs a boost in mental activation and studies have revealed that hearing aids might be capable of filling that role.
Mental Decline, What is it?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle without proper stimulus. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively make and strengthen numerous neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a normal part of aging, there are some things that can hasten or worsen that decline. Hearing loss, as an example, can present a really formidable danger for your cognitive health. Two things occur that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing begins to wain:
- You can’t hear as well: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain responsible for all things related to hearing) receives weakened stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that isn’t true for everyone). These changes have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline.
- You don’t go out as much: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in a detrimental way. Staying in to steer clear of conversations may seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (especially as your untreated hearing loss progresses). But this is not a good idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.
Put together, these two factors can be the cause of a major change in your brain. This mental decline has often been linked to loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) greater danger of mental disorders such as dementia.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of cognitive decline can be the outcome. This means that the best way to treat those declines is pretty clear: treat your hearing loss! For most people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, more than 97% revealed that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is integral to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably beneficial. This portion of your brain will continue to be healthy and vital as long as you keep hearing ( with help from hearing aids).
- One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain remains more engaged when you are social. When you can understand conversations it’s a lot more fun to hang out with your friends.
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
The University of Melbourne study isn’t an outlier. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline, particularly when that decline would be accelerated by neglected hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and simply don’t recognize it. You might not even notice the early symptoms. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than usual, it may be worth checking with your hearing specialist.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and flexible and give you better overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.