Hearing loss is considered a typical part of growing older: as we age, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to keep asking the grandkids to speak up when they talk, or we have to turn the volume up on the TV, or maybe…we begin to…what was I going to say…oh ya. Perhaps we begin to forget things.
The general population has a much lower rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s than the elderly population. That’s the reason why loss of memory is regarded as a neutral part of aging. But could it be that the two are connected somehow? And what if you could treat your hearing loss while taking care of your mental health and protecting your memories?
Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
With nearly 30 million individuals in the United States suffering from hearing loss, most of them do not connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. However, if you look in the right place, the connection is very clear: if you have hearing loss, there is serious risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to numerous studies – even if you have fairly mild loss of hearing.
Mental health problems including depression and anxiety are also quite prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. Your ability to socialize can be seriously effected by hearing loss, cognitive decline, and other mental health issues and that’s the real key here.
Why is Cognitive Decline Linked to Hearing Loss?
While there is no proven finding or definitive proof that hearing loss leads to cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is clearly some connection and several clues that experts are looking at. They have identified two main situations which appear to result in issues: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness results in anxiety and depression. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Lots of people can’t enjoy things like attending a movie because they find it too hard to hear the dialog. These actions lead to a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
researchers have also found that the brain frequently has to work extra hard because the ears are not functioning normally. The region of the brain that’s in control of comprehending sounds, like voices in a conversation, calls for more help from other portion of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much quicker than if the brain was processing sounds correctly.
How to Stop Cognitive Decline Using Hearing Aids
Hearing aids improve our hearing letting the brain to use it’s resources in a normal manner which is our best defense against cognitive decline and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
As a matter of fact, we would likely see less cases of dementia and cognitive decline if more people wore hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids actually use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. It’s calculated by the World Health Organization that there are almost 50 million individuals who deal with some kind of dementia. The quality of life will be drastically enhanced for individuals and families if hearing aids can decrease that number by just a couple million people.