Hearing loss is usually accepted as just another part of getting older: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also frequently regarded as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And could it be possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most people do not connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will see a clear link: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who cope with hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
While there is no solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some connection and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They think two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with other people. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health issues can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
Studies have also shown that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to make up for the diminished stimulation. The part of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
How to fight cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first weapon against cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research shows that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see less instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the people who require 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 lower 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 maintain your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.