If you begin talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will probably put a dark cloud over the entire event.
Dementia isn’t a subject most individuals are intentionally seeking to discuss, mostly because it’s rather scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, makes you lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and causes a general loss of mental faculties. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.
For this reason, many people are looking for a way to counter, or at least slow, the development of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
You may be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why are the dangers of dementia increased with hearing loss?>
What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?
Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not that concerned about it. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your tv won’t solve, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Perhaps the signs are still subtle. Either way, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong correlation. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could begin to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You may become distant from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many individuals who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t attribute their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will begin to work a lot harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is incredibly taxing. Your brain will then have to get extra power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the current theory). It’s believed that this might quicken the development of cognitive decline. Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, like mental fatigue and exhaustion.
You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.
One of the major signs of dementia is hearing loss
Perhaps your hearing loss is mild. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to develop dementia as someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.
So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
So… How should we interpret this?
We’re considering risk in this situation which is important to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.
Because it means that successfully managing your hearing loss can help you reduce your risk of dementia. So how can you deal with your hearing loss? Here are several ways:
- Using a hearing aid can help decrease the impact of hearing loss. So, can dementia be stopped by using hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be able to participate in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Research implies that managing hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia in the future. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- You can take a few steps to protect your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. As an example, you could stay away from noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- Make an appointment with us to identify your existing hearing loss.
Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods
You can reduce your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. This could include:
- Getting sufficient sleep at night is crucial. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your chance of experiencing cognitive decline (excess alcohol use can also go on this list).
- Eating more healthy food, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
- Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.
Of course, scientists are still studying the connection between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complicated disease with a matrix of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
Losing out on the important things in life stinks. And a little bit of hearing loss management, maybe in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.
So call us today for an appointment.