Woman with hearing loss happy to have her freedom and independence while riding in a convertible.

Remember when you got your first car? The feeling of freedom was unprecedented. It was your choice when and where you went and with who you hung out with. Many people with hearing loss have this exact same experience when they get their first hearing aids.

Why would getting your first hearing aids be compared to getting your first car? Even though there are obvious benefits to hearing better, there are some less obvious ones that help you maintain your independence. It so happens that your brain’s functionality is greatly impacted by hearing loss.

Neuroplasticity

To show how efficiently your brain can react to change, think about this: You’re on the way to your job, taking the same way you always take. You soon discover that there is an car accident stopping you from going through. How would you react? Is quitting and going home a good decision? Probably not unless you’re trying to find a reason to avoid the office. Finding another route is most likely what you would choose to do. If that new route happened to be even more efficient, or if your regular route remained restricted, the new route would become the new everyday routine.

Inside your brain, when normal functions are blocked the very same thing happens. New pathways are forged in the brain due to a function defined as neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity can help you master new languages, or to learn new skills such as martial arts or building healthy habits. Activities that were once-challenging come to be automatic as physical modifications inside the brain gradually adjust to match the new pathways. Although neuroplasticity is usually helpful for learning new things, it’s also equally as good at making you forget what you already know.

Neuroplasticity And Loss of Hearing

Hearing loss is the perfect example of how neuroplasticity has a negative impact on your day-to-day life. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways inside of your brain will quickly start to be re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to research done by the University of Colorado. This is something you might not want it to be doing. This reorganization of your brain function explains the link between loss of hearing and cognitive decay.

The areas of your brain that are responsible for hearing will get re-purposed for other functions such as vision and touch. The available resources inside your brain which are used to process sound are diminished and so is your ability to comprehend speech.

So, if you are constantly asking people to speak up, hearing loss has already started. Additionally, it could be a more substantial problem than injury to your inner ear, it’s probable that the neglected hearing loss has induced your brain structure to alter.

Can Hearing Aids Help

As with anything, you get both a negative and positive side to this astonishing ability. Neuroplasticity improves the overall performance of your hearing aids even though it may possibly make your hearing loss worse. You can really take advantage of advanced hearing aid technology because of your brain’s ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. Hearing aids encourage mental growth by exciting the parts of your brain linked with loss of hearing.

As a matter of fact, a long-term study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Cognitive decline was minimized in people with hearing aids, according to this study. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, followed over three thousand adults over the age of 65. The study showed that people with hearing loss had a higher rate of cognitive decline. However, people that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing.

The most useful part of this research is that we can confirm what we already understand about neuroplasticity: the brain will coordinate functions according to your need and the amount of stimulation it receives. In other words, you need to, “use it or lose it.”

Having a Youthful Brain

It doesn’t make a difference what your age is, the adaptability of the brain means it can modify itself at any point in time. It’s also important to note that hearing loss can speed up mental decline and that simple hearing aids prevent or at least minimize this decline.

Hearing aids are high-tech hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplification devices. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can enhance your brain function regardless of any health conditions by pushing yourself to accomplish challenging new activities, being active socially, and practicing mindfulness among other techniques.

Hearing aids are a vital part of ensuring your quality of life. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is a common problem for those with hearing loss. You can be sure to stay active and independent by getting a pair of hearing aids. Keep in mind that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to continue processing sound and receiving stimulation.

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