Hearing loss is typically accepted as just a normal part of the aging process: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also often considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more common in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not typically associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: studies reveal that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also have hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems 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 affect our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
While there is no solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some association and several clues that experts are looking at. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think lead to issues: your brain working extra hard to hear and social isolation.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with other people. Many people who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can bring about mental health problems.
Studies have also revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the diminished stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of 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 develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
How to prevent mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research shows that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see fewer instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some form of dementia. 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 improve exponentially.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.