Hearing loss is considered a normal part of growing older: as we age, we start 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…where was I going with this…oh yes. Maybe we begin to forget things.
Loss of memory is also commonly thought to be a regular part of aging because dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more prevalent in the older population than the general population. But could it be that the two are somehow connected? And, better still, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also protect your memories and mental health?
Hearing Loss And Cognitive Decline
With almost 30 million people in the United States suffering from hearing loss, the majority of them do not associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, if you look in the right direction, the connection is quite clear: if you suffer from hearing loss, there is serious risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to numerous studies – even if you have fairly mild hearing loss.
Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health issues and that’s the real key here.
Why is Cognitive Decline Related to Hearing Loss?
While there is no concrete evidence or definitive evidence that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is definitely some connection and several clues that experts are looking into. They have pinpointed two main situations which appear to result in issues: your brain working harder than it would normally have to and social isolation.
Many studies show that loneliness brings about depression and anxiety. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with other people. Many people find it’s too difficult to have conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy activities like the movie theater. People who are in this scenario tend to begin to isolate themselves which can result in mental health concerns.
researchers have also discovered that the brain frequently has to work extra hard because the ears aren’t functioning normally. The area of the brain which is in control of comprehending sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other portion of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overburdened the brain and leads to the onset of cognitive decline much faster than if the brain was processing sounds normally.
How to Avoid Cognitive Decline With Hearing Aids
Hearing aids improve our hearing allowing the brain to use it’s resources in a normal manner which is our best defense for dealing with cognitive decline and dementia. Research shows that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased chances for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
As a matter of fact, if more people wore 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 even use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. It’s calculated by the World Health Organization that there are almost 50 million individuals who have some form of dementia. The quality of life will be drastically improved for people and families if hearing aids can lessen that number by just a couple million people.