Hearing loss is commonly accepted as just a normal part of the aging process: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We may even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also typically regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more prevalent 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 could it be possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most people don’t associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will discover a clear link: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who have hearing loss also frequently have mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have identified two main scenarios that they believe result in problems: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have demonstrated that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of loneliness. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health issues can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
Studies have also revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the diminished stimulation. The part of the brain that’s responsible for understanding sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to stop mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people 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 as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can lower 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 start hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for a consultation.