As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also often seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But what if the two were somehow related? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most people don’t connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will see a clear link: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They believe two main scenarios are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that isolation results in depression and anxiety. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Ultimately, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. Research shows 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 instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Get in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.