Hearing loss is commonly accepted as simply a normal part of the aging process: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we begin to turn the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we begin forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also frequently seen 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 is it possible to maintain your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and cognitive decline
Most individuals do not associate hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. However, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.
Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?
There is a link between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They believe two main situations are responsible: your brain working extra hard to hear and social separation.
Countless studies show that loneliness results in anxiety and depression. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they cope with hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss find it’s too hard to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like going to the movies. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of solitude.
Studies have also revealed that when someone has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the reduced stimulation. The region of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
How to fight cognitive decline with hearing aids
The weapon against mental health problems and mental decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who suffer from some kind of dementia. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.