As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. 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 viewed as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t usually associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear connection: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
While there isn’t any solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations that they believe lead to issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that solitude brings about anxiety and depression. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with other people. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of isolation.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Eventually, 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. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
How to fight cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has shown that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see less instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many people and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can reduce 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 reaching out to us for a consultation.