Hearing loss is generally accepted as just a normal part of getting older: as we age, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we begin forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also typically regarded as 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 link between the two? And could it be possible to protect your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Mental decline and dementia aren’t usually connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear connection: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who cope with hearing loss also often have mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?
While there isn’t any solid finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think result in problems: your brain working harder to hear and social isolation.
Studies have revealed that anxiety and depression are often the result of loneliness. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with other people. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
Studies have also shown that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the diminished stimulation. The part of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overtaxes the brain and causes mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Studies show that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to combat their hearing loss.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. If hearing aids can lower 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 improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.