Hearing loss is considered a typical part of growing old: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less intelligibly. Maybe we need to keep asking the grandkids to repeat themselves when they talk, or we have to turn up the volume on the TV, or maybe…we begin to…what was I going to say…oh yes. Maybe we start to lose our memory.
Memory loss is also commonly considered a regular part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more widespread in the senior citizen population than the general population at large. But could it be that the two are somehow connected? And, better still, what if there were a way to manage hearing loss and also protect your memories and mental health?
Hearing Loss And Mental Decline
With about 30 million people in the United States who have hearing loss, cognitive decline and dementia, for the majority of them, isn’t connected to hearing loss. However, the connection is quite clear if you look in the right direction: research has shown that there is a substantial chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing loss.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The main point is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all have an effect on our ability to socialize.
Why is Cognitive Decline Linked to Hearing Loss?
While cognitive decline and mental health issues haven’t been definitively proven to be linked to hearing loss, experts are looking at several clues that point us in that direction. They have pinpointed two main situations which seem to lead to problems: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with other people. Many people find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy activities like going to the movies. These actions lead down a path of solitude, which can lead to mental health issues.
researchers have also discovered that the brain often has to work extra hard because the ears aren’t working normally. The region of the brain that’s in charge of understanding sounds, such as voices in a conversation, requires more help from other regions of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that used for memory. This overburdened the brain and leads to the onset of cognitive decline much faster than if the brain could process sounds correctly.
How to Avoid Cognitive Decline With Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research shows that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
As a matter of fact, if more people wore their hearing aids, we may see reduced cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids even use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization reports that there are almost 50 million individuals who deal with some form of dementia. If hearing aids can lower that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for lots of individuals and families will improve exponentially.