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, mainly because of its simplicity. All you require to play is some grids, a pencil, and some numbers. For many, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the hours. That it gives your brain a workout is an added bonus.

“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular way of addressing cognitive decline. But there are other methods of slowing down cognitive decline. At times, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and research has demonstrated that hearing aids might be able to fill that role.

Cognitive Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural pathways will fizzle out without appropriate stimulus. That’s why Sudoku tends to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce numerous neural pathways.

There are some things that will hasten the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline connected with getting older. Hearing loss, as an example, can provide an exceptionally formidable danger for your mental health. Two things take place that really affect your brain when your hearing begins to go:

  • You can’t hear as well: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with everything hearing-related) receives diminished stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some circumstances, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual information; but that’s not true for everyone). These changes have been connected to a higher danger of mental decline.
  • You don’t go out as much: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they have hearing loss. Staying in to steer clear of conversations may seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your neglected hearing loss progresses). But this is a bad idea as it can deprive your brain of that necessary stimulation.

These two things, when put together, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and ultimately an increased danger of dementia have been linked to this type of mental decline.

Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?

So, this cognitive decline happens because your hearing loss is being neglected. And it’s fairly obvious what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.

The degree to which hearing aids can slow mental decline is both unexpected and well-substantiated. About 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were surveyed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months revealed a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.

That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:

  • Discovering ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be advantageous because stimulation is essential to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this essential area of your brain will continue to be stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
  • 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 stays. When you can follow conversations it’s much more fun to talk with your friends.

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

The University of Melbourne research isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline, particularly when that decline would be hastened by untreated hearing loss. But many individuals have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So it’s worth making an appointment with your hearing specialist if you’ve been feeling a little spacey, forgetful, or strained.

That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you stronger general cognitive function. Working your brain out and staying mentally fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.

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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.