As we get older we start to have difficulty hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Maybe we start turning the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also frequently viewed as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And could it be possible to maintain your mental health and address hearing loss at the same time?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear link: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from 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. Your ability to socialize is impacted by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
While there is no solid finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They believe two main situations are responsible: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with others. Many individuals who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too hard to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health problems can be the result of this path of isolation.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the diminished stimulation. The region of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – namely, the part of the brain that stores memories. Mental decline will then develop faster than normal as the overworked brain struggles to keep up.
Using hearing aids to stop mental decline
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When people use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health issues if more individuals would just use their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved 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? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.