Hearing loss is usually accepted as simply another part of getting older: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We may even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also frequently viewed as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And could it be possible to safeguard your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will discover a clear link: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who cope with hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they believe result in problems: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of isolation. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. Mental health problems can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the reduced stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to fight cognitive decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. 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 improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Get in touch with us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.