Hearing loss is usually accepted as simply another part of getting older: as we age, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we begin to turn the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also often viewed as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But what if the two were somehow connected? And could it be possible to safeguard your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most people do not associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will see a clear connection: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who have hearing loss also frequently have mental health issues like 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?
While there isn’t any concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations that they think result in issues: your brain working harder to hear and social isolation.
Many studies show that isolation leads to anxiety and depression. And people aren’t as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health issues can be the outcome of this path of solitude.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. 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 mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
The weapon against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we might see fewer instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million people cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and safeguard your memory at the same time? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.