Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, largely because of its simplicity. All you need to play is a few grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very pleasant way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an additional perk.

“Brain workouts” have become a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. Sometimes, your brain requires a boost in mental stimulation and research has demonstrated that hearing aids may be able to fill that role.

Cognitive Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulus, neural pathways have the tendency to fizzle out. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively forge and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.

While some mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some variables that can speed up or quicken that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can introduce a really formidable danger for your mental health. When your hearing starts to diminish, two things take place that really impact your brain:

  • You can’t hear as well: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain that deals with all things hearing-related) gets weakened stimulation. Your brain might end up changing in a way that causes it to prioritize other senses like sight. Increased danger of cognitive decline has been associated with these changes.
  • You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some people do when they suffer from hearing loss. Staying in to steer clear of conversations may seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your neglected hearing loss worsens). But this is not a good idea as it can deprive your brain of that needed stimulation.

Put together, these two things can cause a major change in your brain. This cognitive decline has often been linked to loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and (in the long term) greater danger of mental disorders including dementia.

Is Mental Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So if your hearing loss is ignored, this kind of mental decline can be the result. And it’s pretty obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing loss treated. For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.

It’s well substantiated and also unexpected the degree that hearing aids can slow down mental decline. About 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Among those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months, over 97% said that their cognitive decline either stopped or reversed.

That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:

  • One of the main functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And the more social you can be, the more engaged your brain remains. It’s easier (and more fun) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
  • Stimulation is critical to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it normally wouldn’t be, is probably helpful. As long as you keep hearing (with the assistance of hearing aids), this vital region of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.

Sudoko is Still a Good Idea

The University of Melbourne study isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow mental decline, especially when that decline would be accelerated by untreated hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and simply don’t recognize it. You might not even recognize the early symptoms. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a little spacier than usual, it may be worth checking your hearing.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you better overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.