Hearing loss is commonly accepted as simply a normal part of the aging process: as we age, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also often seen as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t usually associated with hearing loss. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the right places: studies reveal that there is a significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also suffer from hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
People who have hearing loss also often have mental health issues like 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 concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health problems, there is some connection and several clues that experts are looking at. They have pinpointed two main scenarios that they think lead to problems: the inability to socialize and your brain working overtime.
Many studies show that solitude leads to depression and anxiety. 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 hard to carry on conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can result in mental health problems.
Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing loss, the brain has to work overtime to compensate for the reduced stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, 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 overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health issues and mental decline is hearing aids. Research has shown that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see less cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the people who need hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia according to the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved 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 problems? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.