Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply a normal part of the aging process: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe 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 typically considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more common in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
The connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Mental decline and dementia aren’t usually associated with hearing loss. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will see a clear link: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
While there is no concrete finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think result in problems: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
Studies have also shown that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the reduced stimulation. Ultimately, 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. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to stop mental decline
The weapon against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some kind 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 be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.