Hearing loss is commonly accepted as just another part of the aging process: as we grow older, we start to hear things a little less distinctly. Maybe we need to keep asking the grandkids to speak up when they talk, or we have to turn the volume up on the TV, or maybe…we begin to…what was I going to say…oh ya. Perhaps we start forgetting things.
Loss of memory is also usually thought of as a regular part of getting older as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more prevalent in the older population than the general population. But what if there was a connection between the two? And, better still, what if there were a way for you to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and your mental health?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With almost 30 million individuals in the United States who have hearing loss, mental decline and dementia, for the majority of them, isn’t associated with hearing loss. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the right places: if you suffer from hearing loss, there is considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to many studies – even if you have fairly mild loss of hearing.
Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are also quite prevalent in people who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be significantly impacted by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health problems and that’s the real key here.
Why is Cognitive Decline Connected to Hearing Loss?
While there is no proven finding or definitive proof that hearing loss results in cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is definitely some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations which seem to lead to issues: inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
research has shown that loneliness results in depression and anxiety. And people are less likely to socialize when they suffer from hearing loss. Lots of people can’t enjoy things like attending a movie because they find it too hard to hear the dialog. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
researchers have also discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime because the ears aren’t working like they should. When this takes place, other regions of the brain, including the one responsible for memory, are tapped for hearing and understanding sound. This causes cognitive decline to take place a lot quicker than it normally would.
Wearing Hearing Aids to Stop Cognitive Decline
Hearing aids improve our hearing letting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal manner which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Studies show that people increased their cognitive functions and had a lower rate of dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
In fact, if more people wore their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids even use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization reports that there are nearly 50 million individuals who deal with some form of dementia. 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 improve exponentially.