If you begin talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the whole event.
Dementia is not a subject most people are actively seeking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose a grip on reality, experience memory loss, and causes an over-all loss of mental function. Nobody wants to experience that.
This is why many individuals are looking for a way to counter, or at least delay, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have several pretty clear connections and correlations.>
You may be surprised by that. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?>
What occurs when your hearing loss goes untreated?
Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you aren’t too worried about it. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your tv won’t fix, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just turn on the captions.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Maybe the signs are still easy to dismiss. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a powerful connection. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. As a result, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many people who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will begin to work much harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. As a result, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This is extremely taxing. Your brain will then need to get additional power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the current theory). The idea is that after a while this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Mental stress and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain having to work so hard.
You might have thought that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.
Hearing loss is one of the major signs of dementia
Maybe your hearing loss is mild. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to get dementia as someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.
Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a fairly strong initial sign of a risk of dementia.
Now… What does that mean?
We’re looking at risk in this situation which is important to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. But that could actually be good news.
Because it means that successfully dealing with your hearing loss can help you reduce your risk of dementia. So how can hearing loss be controlled? There are several ways:
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are certain measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. As an example, you could stay away from noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- The affect of hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. So, can dementia be stopped by wearing hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on conversations. Research indicates that treating hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia in the future. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Make an appointment with us to diagnose your present hearing loss.
Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies
You can decrease your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. Here are some examples:
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep each night. There are studies that link fewer than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your chance of developing dementia (excessive alcohol use is also on this list).
- Get some exercise.
- Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. In some cases, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people may need medication sooner than later.
Needless to say, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can lower your risk is good.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, hearing better will help reduce your general risk of developing cognitive decline down the line. But it isn’t just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
Missing out on the important things in life stinks. And a little bit of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.
So call us today for an appointment.