Sudoku is a global, popular puzzle game, largely because of its simplicity. All you require in order to play is a few grids, a pencil, and some numbers. For many people, a Sudoku puzzle book is a pleasant way to pass the hours. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional perk.
It’s become popular to use “brain workouts” to manage cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. Current research has shown that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, slowing the advancement of cognitive decline.
Cognitive Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a rather use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Neural pathways will fizzle without appropriate stimulus. That’s the reason why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce numerous neural pathways.
There are certain things that will quicken the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline associated with getting older. Hearing loss, for example, can introduce an especially potent peril for your mental health. Two things happen that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing begins to go:
- You can’t hear as well: There’s not as much sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual information; but that isn’t true for everybody). These changes have been linked to an increased risk of mental decline.
- You don’t go out as much: Neglected hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in a detrimental way. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem easier to stay inside to avoid conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
These two factors, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately a higher danger of dementia have been related to this sort of mental decline.
Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So if your hearing loss is neglected, this type of mental decline can be the outcome. And it’s fairly clear what needs to be done to reverse these declines: get your hearing impairment treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also unexpected the extent that hearing aids can delay mental decline. Experts at the University of Melbourne surveyed about 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, just from wearing hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- Helping you continue to be social is one of the key functions of any pair of hearing aids. And your brain remains more involved when you are social. When you can understand conversations it’s much more enjoyable to hang out with your friends.
- Discovering ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be helpful because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this major area of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
Sudoko is Still a Smart Idea
This new study out of the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies appear to back up the notion that hearing aids can help reduce mental decline, especially when that decline would be accelerated by neglected hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than usual, it may be worth checking with your hearing specialist.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.