Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Sudoku is a worldwide, popular puzzle game, largely because of its simplicity. All you need to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very enjoyable way to pass some time, for many people, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an added bonus.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to address cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. At times, your brain needs a boost in mental stimulation and research has revealed that hearing aids may be capable of filling that role.

Cognitive Decline, What is it?

Your brain has a truly use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Neural pathways will fizzle out without appropriate stimulus. That’s the reason why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively develop and reinforce numerous neural pathways.

While some mental decline is a natural process associated with aging, there are some things that can accelerate or quicken that decline. An especially formidable hazard for your cognitive health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things occur that really impact your brain when your hearing starts to go:

  • You can’t hear as well: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). Your brain may end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been linked to an increased risk of mental decline.
  • You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some people do when they have hearing loss. As your hearing loss progresses, it may just seem simpler to stay home to escape conversation. But this is a bad idea as it can deprive your brain of that necessary stimulation.

Put together, these two factors can be the cause of a significant change in your brain. Loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and eventually an increased danger of dementia have been related to this type of cognitive decline.

Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So, this mental decline happens because your hearing loss is going untreated. This means that the best way to treat those declines is pretty obvious: deal with your hearing loss! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.

The amount that hearing aids can slow mental decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. Researchers at the University of Melbourne interviewed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Among those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months, more than 97% reported that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.

Just using hearing aids brought about a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:

  • One of the primary functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And your brain stays more engaged when you stay social. When you can follow conversations it’s much more fun to talk with your friends.
  • Stimulation is critical to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is most likely beneficial. This region of your brain will remain vital and healthy as long as you keep hearing ( with assistance from hearing aids).

Sudoko is Still a Good Idea

The University of Melbourne study isn’t an outlier. If you have neglected hearing loss, countless studies have revealed that wearing hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline. The problem is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than normal, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.

That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you better general cognitive function. Exercising and staying cognitively fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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