As we age we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also frequently seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But what if the two were in some way connected? And, better yet, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Mental decline and dementia aren’t typically associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear connection: studies reveal that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
People who cope with hearing loss also frequently have mental health issues including anxiety and depression. 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?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some connection and several clues that experts are looking at. They think two main scenarios are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too hard to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of solitude.
Studies have also shown that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the reduced stimulation. The part of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
The weapon against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When people use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can decrease that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.