Hearing loss is usually accepted as just a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we start turning the volume up on the TV or keep asking our grandchildren to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start to forget things?
Loss of memory is also often regarded as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But what if the two were in some way related? And, better yet, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
The connection between mental decline and hearing loss
Most people do not connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the right places: studies reveal that there is a substantial risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like conditions if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
People who have hearing loss also often have mental health problems including depression and anxiety. 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 conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and several clues that experts are looking at. They think two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working harder to hear and social separation.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are often the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with other people. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health issues can be the outcome of this path of isolation.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. This overtaxes the brain and causes mental decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.
How to stop cognitive decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a decreased risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see fewer cases of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. Almost 50 million people cope with dementia as reported by 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 improve your hearing and protect your memory at the same time? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.