Hearing loss is normally accepted as just another part of getting older: we begin to hear things less intelligibly as we age. Maybe we begin to turn the volume up on the TV, or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps…we start…where was I going with this…oh yes. Perhaps we begin to suffer memory loss.
Loss of memory is also commonly thought to be a regular part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more widespread in the senior citizen population than the general population at large. But what if there was a connection between the two? And, better still, what if there was a way for you to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and your mental health?
Hearing Loss And Mental Decline
With nearly 30 million individuals in the United States who have hearing loss, cognitive decline and dementia, for most of them, isn’t linked to hearing loss. However, if you look in the right place, the link is very clear: if you have hearing loss, there is considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to numerous studies – even if you have relatively mild hearing loss.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health issues and that’s the real key here.
Why is Cognitive Decline Linked to Hearing Loss?
While there are no solid findings or conclusive proof that hearing loss results in cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is clearly some connection and several clues that experts are looking into. They have pinpointed two main scenarios which seem to result in problems: inability to socialize and your brain working extra time.
research has shown that loneliness brings about depression and anxiety. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Many people find that it’s too hard to have conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy activities like the movie theater. These actions lead down a path of solitude, which can lead to mental health problems.
Also, researchers have found that the brain often has to work overtime to compensate for the the ears not hearing as well as they normally would. The part of the brain which is in control of comprehending sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other regions of the brain – namely, the area of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This causes cognitive decline to occur a lot quicker than it normally would.
Using Hearing Aids to Stop Cognitive Decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research shows that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk for developing dementia when they managed their hearing loss using hearing aids.
As a matter of fact, if more people wore their hearing aids, we may see reduced cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids even use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. The World Health Organization reports that there are nearly 50 million individuals who deal with some form of dementia. If hearing aids can lower that figure by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many people and families will improve exponentially.