Hearing loss is generally accepted as simply a normal part of getting older: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also commonly regarded as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Most people don’t associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will see a clear link: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
There is a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are exploring some compelling clues. They believe two main situations are responsible: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are often the result of isolation. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with others. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
Studies have also revealed that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the reduced stimulation. The part of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Get in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.