Hearing loss is typically accepted as simply another part of getting older: as we age, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also normally considered a normal 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 what if the two were somehow connected? And could it be possible to protect your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss
Most individuals do not connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear link: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Individuals who have hearing loss also frequently deal with mental health issues including 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 affect 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 several clues that experts are investigating. They have identified two main situations that they believe lead to problems: your brain working extra hard to hear and social solitude.
Studies have demonstrated that depression and anxiety are often the result of isolation. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with others. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead to isolation, which can bring about mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. 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 stores memories. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to fight mental decline with hearing aids
The weapon against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
We would see fewer instances of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who suffer from some kind of dementia. 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 be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.