Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply another part of getting older: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps going up. We may even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also typically considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Most individuals do not associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the right places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who have hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and several clues that experts are looking at. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think lead to issues: 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 cope with hearing loss. Many people who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead to isolation, which can bring about mental health problems.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the diminished stimulation. The region of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
The weapon against mental health problems and mental decline is hearing aids. Research shows that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who suffer from some form of dementia. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Get in touch with us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.