If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the whole event.
Dementia is not a subject most people are actively looking to talk about, mostly because it’s rather frightening. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience memory loss, and brings about a general loss of mental faculties. No one wants to experience that.
This is why many individuals are seeking a way to prevent, or at least delay, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have some fairly clear connections and correlations.>
That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?>
What happens when your hearing loss goes untreated?
You recognize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.
But then again, maybe you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still hard to detect. Mental decline and hearing loss are clearly linked either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.
- It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. As a result, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as much. This kind of social separation is, well, bad for your brain. Not to mention your social life. What’s more, many people who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they likely won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will be working overtime. Your ears will get less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really tire your brain out. The current theory is, when this occurs, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s believed that this might speed up the development of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain needing to work so hard.
You might have thought that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.
Hearing loss is one of the major indicators of dementia
Perhaps your hearing loss is mild. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to get dementia as someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.
Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a pretty strong initial sign of a dementia risk.
Now… What does that mean?
We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it simply means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that could actually be good news.
Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how do you manage your hearing loss? There are several ways:
- Wearing a hearing aid can help reduce the affect of hearing loss. So, can dementia be stopped by using hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t need to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially connected. Your chance of developing dementia in the future is minimized by treating hearing loss, research implies. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some steps you can take to safeguard your hearing. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a noisy environment and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
- Come in and see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you may have.
Other ways to decrease your dementia risk
You can minimize your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things too, of course. This might include:
- Exercise is needed for good general health including hearing health.
- A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
- Getting sufficient sleep at night is essential. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep each night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- Stop smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your chance of developing dementia (excess alcohol drinking can also go on this list).
Needless to say, scientists are still studying the connection between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complicated. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help decrease your overall risk of developing dementia in the future. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely trips to the grocery store.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.
So call us today for an appointment.