As we age we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also often regarded as a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more common 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, better yet, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Mental decline and dementia are not commonly connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear connection: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
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 is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are investigating some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think result in issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that depression and anxiety are often the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
In addition, researchers have discovered 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 in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent mental decline
The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When people use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
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.