Want to suck all the joy out of your next family gathering? Start to talk about dementia.
Dementia is not a subject most individuals are intentionally looking to discuss, mainly because it’s pretty scary. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It isn’t something anyone looks forward to.
For this reason, many people are looking for a way to prevent, or at least delay, the development of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss raise the risk of dementia?>
When you ignore hearing loss, what are the consequences?
Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not that concerned about it. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your television won’t solve, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.
On the other hand, maybe you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still subtle. Either way, hearing loss and mental decline have a powerful connection. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. Consequently, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as often. It’s not good for your brain to separate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this sort of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will be working overtime. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is extremely taxing. Your brain will then have to get additional energy from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the current theory). It’s thought that this could quicken the onset of cognitive decline. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain needing to work so hard.
You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.
One of the leading signs of dementia is hearing loss
Maybe your hearing loss is mild. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to get dementia as somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.
So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that suggest?
Well, it’s essential not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased chance of developing cognitive decline. But there could be an upside.
Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be managed? Here are a few ways:
- Using a hearing aid can help decrease the impact of hearing loss. So, can cognitive decline be stopped by using hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. Here’s why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on discussions. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is decreased by managing hearing loss, research indicates. That isn’t the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
- Set up an appointment with us to diagnose your current hearing loss.
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods
You can decrease your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. Here are a few examples:
- Getting adequate sleep at night is imperative. There are studies that link less than four hours of sleep every night to a higher risk of dementia.
- Get some exercise.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your chance of experiencing cognitive decline (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
- Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to lower it.
The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!