As we age we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. 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.
Memory loss is also normally regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are far more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were in some way connected? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Mental decline and dementia are not commonly connected to hearing loss. Nevertheless, the connection is quite clear if you look in the right places: 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 like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are investigating some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think result in issues: your brain working harder to hear and social separation.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are often the result of isolation. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with other people. Many individuals with hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can bring about mental health issues.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the reduced stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental 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 cognitive decline, mental health problems, and dementia. Research has shown that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more people would just use their hearing aids. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.