Hearing loss is considered a typical part of the aging process: we start to hear things less intelligibly as we grow older. Maybe we need to keep asking the grandkids to speak up when they talk, or we have to start turning up the volume on the TV, or perhaps…we begin to…what was I going to say…oh ya. Maybe we begin to suffer memory loss.
The general population has a much lower rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s than the elderly population. That’s why loss of memory is considered a normal part of aging. But what if there was a connection between the two? And, better still, what if there were a way for you to treat hearing loss and also protect your memories and mental health?
Hearing Loss And Cognitive Decline
With about 30 million people in the United States who have hearing loss, mental decline and dementia, for most of them, isn’t connected to hearing loss. However, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also suffer from hearing loss – even if you have relatively mild loss of hearing.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also pretty prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health problems and that’s the real key here.
Why is Cognitive Decline Connected to Hearing Loss?
While cognitive decline and mental health problems haven’t been definitively proven to be linked to hearing loss, there is clearly some connection and several clues that experts are looking at. They have pinpointed two main situations which seem to lead to issues: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety. And when people are dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with other people. Lots of people can’t enjoy things like going to the movies because they find it too difficult to hear the dialog. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
researchers have also discovered that the brain often has to work overtime because the ears aren’t functioning like they should. When this happens, other regions of the brain, including the one used for memory, are tapped for hearing and comprehending sound. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much quicker than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to Avoid Cognitive Decline by Wearing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Studies show that people increased their cognitive functions and were at a lower chances for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
Actually, if more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer cases of mental health concerns and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids even use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million individuals who deal with some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can lessen that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for lots of individuals and families will improve exponentially.