As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Maybe we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also commonly regarded as a normal 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 in some way related? And could it be possible to protect your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will discover a clear connection: studies reveal that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some persuasive clues. They have identified two main situations that they believe result in problems: your brain working extra hard to hear and social isolation.
Countless studies show that isolation results in anxiety and depression. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Ultimately, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
The weapon against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. Research has shown that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more individuals would just use their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals 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 as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. 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 protect your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.