As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of aging. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We might even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also normally considered a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the younger population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And could it be possible to protect your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Most people do not associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will see a clear connection: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also often have mental health issues including depression and anxiety. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there is a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they believe result in problems: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that isolation brings about depression and anxiety. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with other people. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline
Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has revealed that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just use their hearing aids. Of all the individuals 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. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for an appointment.