Woman with hearing loss happy to have her freedom and independence while riding in a convertible.

Do you recall getting your first car? The feeling of freedom was unmatched. At any time you could call a few friends and go wherever you wanted. For many people, getting their first hearing aids is a lot like that feeling.

How can getting your first hearing aids compare to getting your first car? There are some subtle reasons why having hearing aids can help you make sure you don’t lose your independence. Come to find out, your hearing has a significant impact on your brain’s functionality.

Neuroplasticity

To show how efficiently your brain will respond to change, think about this: Following the same exact route as you always have, you set off for work. Now, what if you go to make a corner and you find that the road is closed. How would you react? Would you quit and go home? Most likely not unless you’re trying to find a reason to avoid going to work. Seeking out a different way to go is most likely what you would do. If that new route happened to be even quicker, or if your regular route stayed closed for some time, the new route would become your new everyday routine.

Inside your brain, when normal functions are not working the very same thing takes place. The name neuroplasticity defines the brain’s process of rerouting along alternative pathways.

Neuroplasticity can help you master a new language, or to learn new abilities such as martial arts or building healthy habits. Slowly, the physical changes inside the brain adapt to correspond to the new pathways and once-challenging tasks become automatic. Although neuroplasticity can be helpful for learning new skills, it can also be just as good at causing you to you forget what you already know.

How Does Neuroplasticity Relate to Hearing Loss?

A perfect example of how neuroplasticity can have a negative impact is hearing loss. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways inside of your brain will immediately begin to be re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to a study done by the University of Colorado. This is something you might not want it to be doing. The link between hearing loss and cognitive decline can be explained by this.

The parts of your brain that are responsible for hearing will be re-purposed for different functions like vision and touch. The available resources inside your brain which are used to process sound are lessened and so is your ability to comprehend speech.

So, if you are repeatedly asking people to speak up, loss of hearing has already started. And even more significant is the fact that your brain may already be starting to restructure.

How Hearing Aids Can Help You

This ability of your brain has an upside and a downside. Neuroplasticity will probably make your hearing loss worse, but it also improves the overall performance of hearing aids. You can really make the most of current hearing aid technology thanks to your brain’s ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. Hearing aids encourage mental growth by stimulating the parts of your brain associated with hearing loss.

The American Geriatrics Society published a long term study, in fact. Cognitive decline was minimized in people who wear hearing aids, according to this study. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, followed over three thousand adults over the age of 65. What the researchers discovered was that the rate of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, participants that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.

We already understood quite a bit about neuroplasticity and this research confirms that understanding: the brain will coordinate functions according to your need and the amount of stimulus it is given. In other words, you need to, “use it or lose it.”

Preserving a Youthful Brain

It doesn’t matter what your age is, the versatility of the brain means that it can modify itself at any point in time. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can hasten mental deterioration and that this decline can be reduced or even averted by wearing hearing aids.

Hearing aids are high-tech hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplification devices. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, by pushing yourself with new activities, being socially active, and perhaps practicing mindfulness you can help improve your brain’s functionality regardless of your age.

To guarantee your quality of life, hearing aids are a must have. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is common for those with hearing loss. If you would like to stay active and independent, get a pair of hearing aids. Keep in mind that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to keep processing sound and receiving stimulation.

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