As we get older we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also often seen as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But what if the two were somehow related? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Mental decline and dementia aren’t commonly associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is quite clear if you look in the right places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also frequently have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They have identified two main situations that they think lead to issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are frequently the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Many people who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to compensate 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 – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to stop mental decline
Hearing aids are our first weapon against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has shown that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see fewer cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who deal with some form of dementia. If hearing aids can reduce that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.