Hearing loss is generally accepted as just a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also frequently regarded as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
The link between mental decline and hearing loss
Cognitive decline and dementia are not usually associated with hearing loss. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also often deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
While there is no solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some link and several clues that experts are looking at. They think two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working extra hard to hear and social isolation.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of isolation.
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Ultimately, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, 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 overworked brain strains to keep up.
How to prevent mental decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has shown that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a decreased risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can decrease that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.