As we get older we start to have trouble hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Maybe the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We may even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Loss of memory is also often viewed 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 somehow connected? And is it possible to maintain your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most individuals do not associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will find a clear link: studies show that there is a substantial 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.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all affect our ability to socialize.
Why does hearing loss affect cognitive decline?
There is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some persuasive clues. They believe two main situations are responsible: your brain working extra hard to hear and social solitude.
Many studies show that isolation brings about depression and anxiety. And when people suffer from hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with others. 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 bring about mental health problems.
Additionally, researchers have discovered that the brain often has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Ultimately, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overworked brain strains to keep up.
How to fight mental decline with hearing aids
The first line of defense against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. Research shows that patients improved their cognitive functions and were at a reduced risk of developing dementia when they used hearing aids to deal with their hearing loss.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see less cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Of all the individuals who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who deal with some form of dementia. If hearing aids can reduce that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.
Are you ready to improve your hearing and maintain your memory at the same time? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to find out if hearing aids are right for you and to get on the path to better mental health.