As we get older we begin to have trouble 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 may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also commonly viewed as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And could it be possible to maintain your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most people don’t connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will discover a clear link: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also often have mental health issues including anxiety and depression. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect association, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think result in issues: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Countless studies show that solitude results in depression and anxiety. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can result in mental health issues.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to compensate for the diminished stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the part 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 cognitive decline with hearing aids
The weapon against mental health issues and mental decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people wore their hearing aids, we may see fewer instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million individuals cope with dementia as reported by 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 be exponentially improved.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.