Hearing loss is generally accepted as just another part of getting older: as we get older, we begin 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 getting louder. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also often considered a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were somehow connected? And could it be possible to safeguard your mental health and manage hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Cognitive decline and dementia are not commonly connected to hearing loss. Nevertheless, the link is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: studies show that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are exploring some persuasive clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think result in problems: your brain working harder to hear and social isolation.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are often the result of isolation. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with other people. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the diminished stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. This overtaxes the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline
The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When people use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.