Hearing loss is thought of as a typical part of getting older: we start to hear things less distinctly as we get older. Maybe we start turning the volume up on the TV, or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps…we start…what was I going to say…oh ya. Perhaps we start forgetting things.
The general population has a much lower rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s than the older population. That’s the reason why loss of memory is regarded as a neutral part of aging. But what if there was a connection between the two? And, better yet, what if there were a way for you to manage hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Hearing Loss And Mental Decline
With nearly 30 million individuals in the United States suffering from hearing loss, mental decline and dementia, for the majority of them, isn’t associated with hearing loss. However, if you look in the right direction, the connection is very clear: studies show that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like ailments if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are also pretty prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The main point is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all have an effect on our ability to socialize.
Why Does Hearing Loss Impact Cognitive Decline?
While cognitive decline and mental health issues haven’t been definitively proven to be linked to hearing loss, experts are looking at several clues that point us in that direction. They have identified two main scenarios which seem to result in issues: your brain working extra hard have to and social isolation.
research has shown that loneliness goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression. And people are less likely to socialize when they are dealing with hearing loss. Many people find it’s too hard to have conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy activities like the movie theater. People who are in this scenario tend to begin to isolate themselves which can result in mental health problems.
researchers have also discovered that the brain frequently has to work extra hard to compensate for the the ears not hearing as well as they normally would. When this happens, other areas of the brain, like the one used for memory, are utilized for hearing and comprehending sound. This overtaxes the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in much quicker than if the brain could process sounds normally.
How to Avoid Cognitive Decline by Wearing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are our first line of defense against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. Research has shown that people improved their cognitive functions and were at a lower risk for developing dementia when they used hearing aids to fight their hearing loss.
In fact, we would most likely see fewer instances of dementia and cognitive decline if more people actually wore hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of people who require hearing aids actually use them, that’s 4.5 to 9 million people. It’s calculated by the World Health Organization that there are almost 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. The quality of life will be drastically enhanced for people and families if hearing aids can lessen that number by just a couple million people.